Language of a Broken Heart
Directed by Rocky Powell. Starring Juddy Talt, Julie White, Kate French, Ethan Cohen, Lara Pulver, Oscar Nuñez, Kelley Johnson, Steven Anderson. (2013, R, 98 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., March 29, 2013
Lovelorns have been communicating their hearts’ particular aches since probably the first caveman started scrawling on a wall, and, in modern times, every artistic mode of expression under the sun has sought to articulate the same message, be it via an especially ambitious sitcom or a two-minute pop song. You can pack a mighty punch into two minutes, or 22; conversely, as Marshall McLuhan argued, the medium is the message: Blow out a 30-second pitch into two hours’ time, and the heart – broken or otherwise – may sputter with exhaust at a flimsy idea inexpertly played out.
Actor/writer/co-producer Juddy Talt fashions here an autobiographically informed tale of a romance writer unlucky in love. He plays Nick, a bestselling author newly dumped by his live-in girlfriend (played by Pulver, better known to American audiences as Irene Adler on the BBC’s Sherlock reboot). After Nick’s mopey, obsessive behavior fails to woo back his ex, he returns home to his mother’s house to lick his wounds and consider a new relationship with a kooky bookstore owner (French).
Much of the film was shot in Dallas (standing in for a Chicago suburb), and it has a crisp but depthless look that mimics the material itself. Talt is male-model handsome but dull as dishwater, mouthing endless banalities about love; of the rest of the cast, only TV vet Julie White (Go On, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) surmounts the overwritten and overwrought script to produce an authentic, frisky performance as Nick’s widowed mother.
Back to that question of medium: Scrubbed of the few, ill-fitting four-letter words that earned it an R, Language of a Broken Heart might have made a passable Hallmark or Lifetime TV movie, cushioned by the TV-movie context. But as a theatrical prospect, it’s a fail.