The Broken Hearts Gallery Movie Review: Predictable romcom anchored by a terrific performance
A potentially lovely coming-of-age story trapped in the confines of a romcom that is still worth a watch for Geraldine Viswanathan's tour de force lead turn
TV writer Natalie Krinsky's directorial debut, The Broken Hearts Gallery, is a textbook romantic comedy. It checks all the usual boxes — the quirky protagonist, her equally eccentric friends, a failed relationship, the new man in her life that she's initially just friends with, the return of the ex, the usual misunderstandings — all leading to the foregone conclusion. What sets the film apart is its lead actor, Geraldine Viswanathan, and her irresistible charm. For starters, her Lucy looks nothing like your usual romcom heroine. The pleasant surprise is that this is not commented on or used as a plot point. And Lucy remains the same throughout. There's no 'magical' transformation.
Lucy is a high-spirited 26-year-old who dreams of opening her own art gallery in New York. She is a hoarder, though she dislikes being called one. She prefers to refer to the things she's accumulated from her relationships over the years as her 'collection'. After a bad break-up, she meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery), whose dream is to convert an old YMCA into a boutique hotel. He gives her the idea of opening the titular Broken Hearts Gallery, where people can exhibit items they have collected from past relationships. The two become partners, with Nick offering her gallery space at his hotel, and Lucy lending a hand for the construction work at the hotel. A friendship develops, love follows, and so on.
Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo
Director: Natalie Krinsky
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
This is Geraldine Viswanathan's first major starring role and she makes quite an impression. As a character, Lucy is a bit much sometimes, but the actor sells her effortlessly. As long as she's onscreen, the film remains engaging despite all the cliches. However, Krinsky chooses to include several talking heads of people displaying their donations to the Broken Hearts Gallery. These short video clips — supposed to have been shot by Lucy for her gallery — are inserted throughout the film. Rather than enhance the narrative, these only break the flow and make us impatiently wish to see Lucy again.
Just as unfortunate is the lack of real chemistry between the two leads. While Viswanathan is completely winsome, Montgomery comes off as quite tepid. This is in part due to Nick not being a particularly well-defined character. The plot requires Lucy to be in the dark about his history, but surely the film could have let us in a bit. Especially since the big thing he's hiding is fairly obvious.
What I did like, aside from Viswanathan's performance, was the rationale for Lucy's hoarding habit. This heartbreaking and very believable reason is revealed in a lovely speech that Lucy gives at the end. This speech is interrupted by Nick bursting in with a "grand gesture" leading up to the classic romcom ending. The scene illustrates both the strength and the weakness of the movie. The Broken Hearts Gallery is a potentially lovely coming-of-age story trapped in the confines of a romcom. It is still well worth a watch as an acting showcase for Geraldine Viswanathan, whom we will certainly be seeing much more of in the future.