In Tommy Guns, director Carlos Conceição depicts the victims of Portuguese rule in Angola as literal zombies. His approach takes a page from postcolonial studies, in which spectral metaphors abound: the legacy of imperialism haunts people long after colonizers have departed, poisoning the culture even without a corporeal presence.
The brilliance of Modern Romance lies in how Brooks, as the film’s co-writer, conflates the comedic and horrific implications of its romantic premise until they are indistinguishable from one another. The film is funny because it’s kind of disturbing, not despite that fact.
The goal doesn’t seem to be to sincerely interrogate the ways people move through the world following a devastating loss, let alone maintain baseline fidelity to the actual contours of human emotion, but rather to poke at an audience in just the right places so they can experience catharsis via fictional suffering.