The Broken Hearts Gallery
2020, PG-13, 108 min. Directed by Natalie Krinsky. Starring Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 11, 2020
Lucy Gulliver belongs in the same conversation as other polarizing, force-of-personality characters like Juno and Hannah Horvath – but as a contrasting example of what happens when something in that characterization goes wrong, on the page and in the performance. Playing Lucy, Geraldine Viswanathan – who pulled focus from major stars in her film breakthrough, 2018’s Blockers – brings big, sloppy energy but little subtlety to The Broken Hearts Gallery, an overworked romantic comedy from first-time feature film writer-director Natalie Krinsky.
A gallery assistant in New York, Lucy has curated her own informal museum of heartache by holding onto ephemera from her failed relationships, the many knick-knacks now cluttering her room. (Her no-nonsense roommate nails it: “This is active trash.”) It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going, and from what psychic burdens Lucy must unshackle herself, but it takes – consults Syd Field – fully 30 minutes to arrive at the titular gallery. Let’s do it in one sentence: After a couple meet-cutes with a would-be hotelier named Nick (Stranger Things’ Montgomery, wan), Lucy convinces him to let her take over space in his under-construction Brooklyn boutique hotel and create an art gallery displaying the vestiges of other people’s doomed romances. The film’s remaining 78 minutes are about convincing us these two opposites – boisterous, bull-in-a-china-shop Lucy and Nick, whose heart rate never seems to rise above mild bemusement – are made for each other.
Alas, the love match is cringing; as a rom-com’s raison d’etre, their limp connection pretty much sinks the thing. But when the script settles down and stops feeling quite so much like an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thesis project, it has its bouncy moments – Krinksy’s good with a quip. And as a director, she’s far more successful harnessing the charisma of two pairs of supporting players: Molly Gordon and Phillipa Soo as Lucy’s roommates; and Arturo Castro and Megan Ferguson as Nick’s married-couple besties. They’re all outstanding in small but sit-up-and-notice turns, and one suspects literally any mix-and-match of them in the lead roles would have produced a more rousing romance.