In The Broken Hearts Gallery, Natalie Krinsky tries to create the Gen Z equivalent to romcoms of the past but misses the point on what made them great.
What if you saved a souvenir from every relationship you’ve ever been in? The Broken Hearts Gallery follows the always unique Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York City, who also happens to be an emotional hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create The Broken Heart Gallery, a pop-up space for the items love has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads, encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the romantics out there, including Lucy herself.
Geraldine Viswanathan is known for her sex-positive roles in Blockers, The Package but has recently moved on to films like Hala and Bad Education. However, it seems as though she is either still too young to be talking about dozens of exes or that it feels entirely unbelievable. She is hilarious here, but she isn’t given room to express that side of her. She’s forced to walk this tightrope of these hilarious moments while trying to provide a dramatic heft to the scene. Instead, the heft goes to Dacre Montogomery (although he does get some hilarious bits here and there). Don’t get me wrong, I love Dacre Montogomery as much as anyone who watched Stranger Things 2 & 3 (although my favorite role of his is still in Power Rangers), I think that by giving Geraldine the funny bits and Dacre the dramatic moments, the film is selling its actors short on what they’re capable of.
There are great bit parts from Arturo Castro and Bernadette Peters as the best friends/mentors of each side of this romcom. Both actors do a fantastic job of walking this tightrope of ribbing their friends for the ridiculous ways they torture themselves while also giving them great advice to fix said issues. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Arturo Castro or Bernadette Peters. Unfortunately, there is a small bit part from Ego Nwodim that feels like she’s taking an unused character from Saturday Night Live and reading off of that script rather than digging into her character Harvard and finding jokes in there.
The script and direction feel like I’m always playing catch up. We’re thrown into trying to understand the context of why Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) was dumped, and we never get the opportunity to. Lucy is seen as this character who has no faults other than her boyfriends calling her “a bit mental” and hoarding souvenirs from past relationships. All of her conflicts come from there, and it gets boring fast. If a protagonist is nearly faultless, you’re just stuck in this cycle of trivial problems that are resolved about as quickly as they’re introduced, rather than providing room for growth. The same is unfortunately true of just about every character we come into contact with. This characterization & structure leaves the film racing towards a finish line that ends in a whimper.
One of the bright spots of the film is the costume design. Each character has their wardrobe, with Lucy wearing blouses and pantsuits, Max wearing casual tees and jeans, Nadine (Phillipa Soo) wearing what I can only be described as modern gypsy, and Amanda (Molly Gordon) wearing a mix all of the above.
The sense of continuity is all but lost in The Broken Hearts Gallery. If you had to ask me when the beginning and end of this film is, I would say any month between October and May. There are hard edits that leave me clueless as to how the film progresses. Characters try to give context for how long it’s been since something big happened in the plot through dialogue, but that happens way too little.
So, if you’re looking for an entertaining romantic comedy, maybe watch Palm Springs. The Broken Hearts Gallery will leave you wishing the story was more intriguing.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is now in theaters.