“I can’t date another introverted pessimist with intimacy issues.”
Written and directed by Michael K. Feinstein, The Browsing Effect follows a group of L.A. friends as they navigate dating and relationships. The title is a reference to the plethora of dating apps that not only guide singles to find their perfect match but also overwhelm them with possibilities. Improv actress/Uber driver Melissa (Megan Guinan) and her boyfriend, soon-to-be fiancee, James (Drew Fonteiro) have just moved in together but soon realize that they’re not ready for a lifelong commitment. Ben (Josh Margolin) and Rachel (Nikki SooHoo) recently had a nasty break-up and move on in very different ways. They all find themselves on dating apps searching for their next match or someone to fill the void.
There are quite a number of indie films about the L.A. dating scene. So what makes The Browsing Effect one stand out? It re-imagines the awkwardness of dating by acting out the scenarios in a unique way. For example, Ben begins messaging a potential date on Tinder. The woman appears in his room seductively on his dresser, reading out her responses to him. In another scene, Melissa’s blind date opens a closet door to reveal his ex-girlfriend who then explains to Melissa what went wrong in their relationship. A less effective scene includes Rachel in bed with her latest fling and their younger selves appear to ask questions.
There were some enjoyable scenes but overall The Browsing Effect was a mixed bag. I didn’t care about any of the characters. The biggest exception was Ben who has a sweet yet complicated love story he has with Gabriela (Gabriela Lopez). I wanted to know more about Lawrence (Larry Powell), the only gay character in the story, who avoids dating apps and stalks his love interest in real life instead. There were plot gaps and several attempts at comedy that fell flat. The dating app used in the film is branded “Timber” yet all the actors say “Tinder”. Even the Spanish spoken at Gabriela’s birthday party was bad. If you’re like me and don’t care for improv, the scenes with the improv groups Diva Cup and Pizza Hat will be a total wash.
“A movie about love for those who think they’ve found the one… but quickly regret swiping right.”
Directed by Aaron Fradkin and written by Fradkin and Victoria Fratz, Electric Love follows a group of 20-somethings as they navigate the dating landscape of modern day L.A. These interconnected stories feature young single people in various states of courtship whether it’s a blind-date, hook-up or a long-term relationship. The film explores straight, bisexual and gay relationships as well as polyamory and monogamy. In an increasingly technological world, our smartphones have become an integral part of not only how we approach dating but how we connect with others.
Searching for normalcy in the complicated world of dating can be trying at best. That’s what photographer Emma (Mia Serafino) and filmmaker Adam (Zachary Mooren) discover as they search for potential mates on dating apps like Bumble, JDate, Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid. Their friends are not having much luck either. Adam’s gay BFF Greg (Matt Bush) is struggling to move from clandestine hook-ups to a solid relationship. Emma’s roommate Charlotte (Misha Reeves), a sex and relationships podcaster and outspoken advocate for polyamory, is dealing with an equally outspoken adversary, internet troll Abe Rosen (Ben Faigus). Other characters in this L.A. bubble include relationship vlogger The Love Zoltar (Fahim Anwar) who offers the protagonists much needed advice in their dating journey, William (Kyle Howard) a clueless single guy who has an eye out for Emma, and a long-distance couple who’ve decided to take a giant leap forward and move in together. When Emma and Adam start dating, will they be able to set aside their dating hang-ups to experience a meaningful connection?
Electric Love is an enjoyable little indie about modern day dating. It’s refreshing to have two approachable and accessible protagonists (played by Serafino and Mooren). It felt like I was watching two real people date each other rather than two movie stars pretending to do so. I didn’t quite get an L.A. vibe from this film that I was expecting. It did however capture the awkwardness of being single, the miscommunication, the mixed messages and the disappointments. The thing that stays true is that regardless of the generation, dating is and always will be difficult. The film ends of a positive and hopeful note. It’s not a groundbreaking story but a reassuring one.