Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

TV Review: ‘Love Life’ finds Anna Kendrick at the top of her game

Love Life, the first series from HBO Max, perfectly captures the fears, hopes, pitfalls, roadblocks, and promise of a woman’s search for “the one.” It’s a remarkable accomplishment for series creator Sam Boyd (writer/director of In a Relationship) and his co-showrunner Bridget Bedard. Many comedies have attempted this before, and almost all fail. It’s understandable because of the full range of emotions that come with detailing the ups and downs of courtship. The success of Boyd’s writing team is enhanced by a career-defining performance from Anna Kendrick that should vault her into Emmy consideration.

The anthology series follows the life of Darby Carter and her journey from first-ever love to her last love. Love Life also brilliantly shows it is the people and experiences along the way, which shape us into being ready to accept true love. Where this series separates from a show like Sex and the City is how deep and authentic the littlest moments come across on screen. With each moment of romance in Darby’s life and subsequent heartbreak comes emotional baggage, which Kendrick conveys as the series unfolds. For Ms. Carter, getting over a guy isn’t as simple as hooking up with another.

Each episode is structured around either a guy Darby dated or a person who helped shaped her life and is narrated by the deliciously droll Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread). The series kicks off with Augie Jeong (Devs‘ Jin Ha) during her early 20’s, which details a time in her life where she didn’t know what would happen from one moment to the next. Darby ends up putting all her eggs in that relationship basket rather rapidly, which inevitably results in heartbreak. That experience teaches her the need to take some responsibility for the direction of her life which lead her into the arms of her recently divorced boss, Bradley (played by Halt and Catch Fire‘s Scoot McNairy). She learns over time that an older/stable man isn’t necessarily a better one. It seems that with each episode who Darby truly is and who she wants to become. While the episodes about Darby’s ex-boyfriends are lovely, this show wouldn’t nearly be as engaging without touching on her relationship with her best friend Sara and the adversarial relationship with mother, played by an acid-tongued Hope Davis.  Love Life isn’t about Darby’s quest for love it’s about her evolution. How can you find true love if you can’t accept being loved?

Anna Kendrick is at the top of her game in Love Life. This is a role she was born to play and a story I can only envision her telling. The supporting cast is solid as well, but Zoe Chao stands out more so than the others. Chao plays Darby’s best friend Sara, who seemingly has everything together at the beginning of the series, but like anything, things change. That dynamic plays an important role in who Darby becomes and where Sara is headed. 

Love Life is incredibly engrossing and heartfelt. These characters pop off the screen in a manner that is a pleasant surprise. Boyd’s words rope in the audience and allow for bonds to be created with these characters, which only intensifies our feelings as we experience this journey, and what a wonderful one it was. 

HBO Max will drop three episodes of Love Life’s 10-episode first season on May 27

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