“A variety of clever creative choices.”
There’s something just a bit familiar about writer-director Natalie Krinsky’s new film The Broken Hearts Gallery. Watching it, you can’t help but be reminded of the various tropes that defined the romantic comedy genre during the 2000s. Beautiful, idealized New York City? Check. Heroine working in a creative field who should not be able to afford the apartment she has? Check. Grand romantic climax? Check. Yet, through a variety of clever creative choices, The Broken Hearts Gallery manages to keep from looking like a generic rehash of other romantic comedy movies.
Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) is an art gallery assistant who collects souvenirs from every relationship she’s ever had. After a disastrous breakup with her boyfriend (and boss) Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a drunken Lucy finds herself mistaking the car of Nick (Dacre Montgomery) for her Lyft. Ever the gentleman, Nick drops her off at her apartment. A chance encounter between the two of them several days later leads to Lucy confiding in Nick about her collection and her coming up with the idea to create an art gallery in Nick’s hotel based on her and other peoples’ tokens from past relationships. As the two work on the hotel and gallery, Lucy and Nick become close friends.
In true rom-com fashion, The Broken Hearts Gallery is all about the development of Lucy and Nick’s relationship. In the hands of anyone less capable than actors Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery, it’s not certain whether the relationship would be believable. However, Viswanathan is so charming and charismatic that one cannot simply help but root for her character. Montgomery, on the other hand, balances out her lively energy with a more suave and subdued performance. Their chemistry together is good enough to sell an imperfect script.
Indeed, the dialogue in The Broken Hearts Gallery is entertaining and witty, but just shy of realistic. Characters make leaps of logic that would require just a few more seconds of conversation to believably achieve, and some instances could make a viewer wonder if there’s anyone out in the world that actually talks like this. However, the cast is so fun that once the film truly gets going, it’s easy to ignore that little voice in the back of your head crying “suspension of disbelief!”
One of the true joys of this movie is Lucy’s dynamic with her best friends, Nadine (Philippa Soo) and Amanda (Molly Gordon). Confident Nadine and sarcastic Amanda provide great foils to the awkwardly charming Lucy. They help make an already sympathetic heroine even more engaging. The distinct personalities of supporting characters like (but not limited to) Lucy’s friends elevate The Broken Hearts Gallery over what many have come to expect from basic rom-com fare: friends and coworkers are zany without being one-dimensional, supportive without just being there to support.
Where The Broken Hearts Gallery truly excels though is in the work that is done outside of the plot. The film is beautifully shot without drawing attention to itself. Its opening credits sequence provides lovely visuals that perfectly set up the tone of the rest of the movie. Moreover, the clothes in this movie are gorgeous. The wonderful outfits on every character make the movie that much more fun. Of course, it would be remiss to talk about the movie without speaking of the soundtrack: filled with songs that are current yet not trendy enough to easily date the movie, The Broken Hearts Gallery‘s soundtrack truly makes the film fun.
Overall, The Broken Hearts Gallery is an upbeat film that makes it easy to forget the world around you. Its diverse and talented cast provides a charming respite from the all-White romantic comedies of yesteryear. The grand gesture at the end of the movie might be too much for some viewers, but the overall romantic development is solid. The Broken Hearts Gallery is fun, but not revolutionary, and that’s more than enough.
Dir.: Natalie Krinsky
Prod.: David Cross
Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Philippa Soo, Molly Gordon, Bernadette Peters.
Release Date: September 11, 2020
Available in: Theaters