‘Black Mirror’ S4E3: “Hang the DJ”
We’re attempting to review each ep without spoilers, so if you want to go in completely fresh, close the review now!
Logline: A dating app rules this world, as people must live through multiple relationships before finding their perfect partner.
Verdict: “Hang the DJ” takes aim at our obsession with dating apps and modern relationships. Biting social satire accompanies conventions blown out of proportion: the awkward first introduction, the little tics that really grind down a relationship, and those awful couples mixers. There’s a sense here that the topics being tackled aren’t just relationships in the modern era, but stuff that’s been around forever: sliding from one relationship to the next, being locked-in, and that nagging feeling you messed something up. “Hang the DJ” explores some true terrors.
It’s not about militarization, artificial intelligence, or making love to a pig (cf. “The National Anthem”). All those high-brow conceptual searches are left by the wayside in an often brutal excavation of modern relationships and, in the end, love.
“Hang the DJ” takes all our fears and addictions to dating apps and puts a dystopian wrapper around it all. Most of this episode’s soul-searching is due to the wonderful chemistry between the central characters, played by Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) & Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders). They’re an absolute joy to witness, especially when bouncing off each other. The world built around them feels oppressive, not just due to the aesthetic and design choices, but in the way the main couple is treated, especially when trespassing on relationship norms. The camera work does a stellar job piecing together an out-of-sync story, keeping the focus always on the protagonists, visually narrating a clear-cut exploration of relationships and loneliness simultaneously.
Charlie Brooker captures the motions and repetitions with which modern relationships can be filled, with satisfying and moreish scenes everyone can relate to. Despite the effects of dating apps being turned to hyperbole, the resolution resonates satisfyingly.