Black Mirror: Hang the DJ (Review)

Director: Timothy van Patten
Starring: Georgina Campbell, Joe Cole

The Overview
A dating app offers users the opportunity to find out the “expiry date” on their relationship, before eventually leading them to find their ultimate match.

The Review
Before watching this episode, I maintained that there would never be a Black Mirror episode that would make me cry more than San Junipero. Turns out, I was wrong, and whilst I do need a little more time to digest it, Hang the DJ has every potential to be one of my favourite Black Mirror episodes ever.

It is one of those episodes which has a beautifully simple concept, but it has so much emotional depth to it at the same time. The premise is not unlike that of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster; a near-future civilisation which seems to have the sole purpose of finding a life partner, or as it refers to it here, your “ultimate match”. With relationships given a ticking clock of anything from a 12 hour one-night stand, to a year or more, the couples are repeatedly reassured that “everything happens for a reason”, and that each experience good or bad, will feed into the data that leads to the “system” finding your ultimate match.

What could’ve been a biting take on modern dating – and indeed there are shades of that – ends up being one of the most beautifully pure love stories I have seen in a long time. 

To pack a story so layered and rich into such a short space of time has to be commended, and Brooker’s writing ensures not a second is wasted, whilst the beautiful direction from Timothy van Patten ensures the ideas have ample breathing room to really get under your skin. The chemistry between Amy (Campbell) and Frank (Cole) is palpable from the second we meet them, and watching their story play out is nothing short of exquisite. The immaculate production design gives it a crisp, futuristic feel whilst not seeming too unlike our present. The gorgeous soundtrack from Alex Somers and Sigur Rós provides the perfect minimalist backdrop, and it is one which benefits from a listen in isolation as well to truly appreciate it. 

Hang the DJ isn’t as much of a head-scratcher as some of the other Black Mirror episodes, and it is a welcome palate cleanser to some of the darker episodes in this series. Almost completely devoid of cynicism, there is something so profoundly beautiful in its take on love and relationships. It challenges the idea that love can be found with a formula or algorithm, and by the end you’ll be a sobbing mess.

This is a near perfect hour of television; the performances are great, the characters likeable, funny and charming in places, warm and uplifting in others. This episode will stay with me for a very long time afterwards; simply magnificent.    

The Verdict
★★★★★

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