What makes up the soundtrack to your life?
It’s safe to say that we all have certain songs that remind us of moments that have left an imprint on our lives in one way or another. Whether the experiences they prompt are positive or negative, there’s no doubt that these tunes are embedded with pieces of our lives. In the new anthology series, For the Record, some of these iconic songs take centre stage as they entangle themselves with stories of love and loss.
Written and directed by Julian De Zotti, For the Record plays out like your favourite album. Similar to the way that an LP builds a story from track to track, each episode leans into the next in ways that create a thematic atmosphere. In this way, Record is less a series about individual performances (although those are solid across the board) and more about narrative fluidity.
Streaming exclusively on CBC Gem, For the Record begins with the story of Ray (De Zotti) and Angela (Lisa Baylin), a young couple sorting through the wreckage that was their relationship. When the two gather to divvy up their shared records between them, they recognize the power that these iconic songs have had in their romance and the memories that they carry with them. As their story together comes to a close (or does it?), the viewer follows the interconnected lives of others who struggle with the complications of their own relationships as well.
Unlike other films and shows that attempt to force relationships to intersect with one another, the connections between stories remains fluid and loose. While characters may appear briefly in each other’s lives, the stories entirely focus on their subject rather than get bogged down by side plots. For example, as one episode begins with a young man meetings his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, the next will feature those same parents in marital counselling with a local pastor. By taking this approach, De Zotti gives Record a lyrical atmosphere that allows for the narrative to breathe and move freely amongst their very different character journeys.
With each story, De Zotti explores the shape (and cracks) of love from different sides. Rather than idealize his characters, De Zotti shows virtually every character in all their brokenness. In an atypical twist on the romance genre, every story features individuals that struggle with their flaws and live with the consequences of their actions. While this can feel cynical at times, it also feels genuine and honest in its approach as the series follows the eb and flow of love and its challenges.
What’s more, by showcasing a variety of ethnicities and sexual identities, De Zotti also highlights the complex conversations that our relationships so often carry with them. Whether it’s an elderly Asian grandmother going through a sexual awakening or an African-American family grappling with modern issues of race and gender, the series is more than willing to wade into some murky and complicated waters with self-awareness and care.
However, even with its variety of stories, what remains constant within Record is the music itself. In each episode, music becomes the link that brings people together (or drives them apart). Featuring wonderful songs that ranges from classics by the Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye to more modern hits by the Weeknd and Johnny Orlando (who also stars), Record recognizes the power of music to create moments that last in our memory forever. Playing out as a quasi-soundtrack of their lives, every tune creates an almost spiritual connection with the piece that showcases it, bringing deeper meaning to the story and the characters. In essence, though characters may move freely as individuals on their own journeys, their passion for music unites them.
Crackling along like the needle on a record player, For the Record moves freely between its different characters as they explore the pratfalls of modern romance and cultural conversations. As a result, this anthology is definitely worth a spin.
For the Record is available on CBC Gem now.