From the outset, The Broken Hearts Gallery is a winning formula. A brilliant lead actress, great concept, heartfelt sentimentality. But it’s an example of a film with all the right elements that happens to take almost every misstep that will leave you feeling like you watched something that should have originally been released on Netflix (not that I’m saying their quality is bad…always).
Lucy (the excellent Geraldine Viswanathan) is an aspiring art gallery curator who’s romantic relationships seem to always end badly. This combined with her penchant for collecting memorabilia from each relationship, coupled with a public break up and loss of a job, sets the story going. Her friends Nadine (Phillipa Soo) and Amanda (Molly Gordon) support her at first, but decide that it’s time for her to let go of these little memories she keeps on her mantle. And thus the story begins. There’s a love storyline with a new guy Nick (Dacre Montgomery), who owns a hotel that Lucy ends up establishing her Broken Hearts Gallery at, and a cast of other funny people, Bernadette Peters included, that ends abruptly in an underwhelming end.
Viswanathan is a star in the role and this film is entirely hers. She is appealing and delivers each of her lines absolutely perfectly. I hope to see more of her going forward in a similar way to, say, Mindy Kaling. Montgomery, on the other hand, struggles with the sad, unromantic Nick. While Montgomery does come across as cynical, he doesn’t play it in a likeable way that makes you root for him. At times I hoped Lucy would just give up on him and be the amazing art curator she was born to be.
The supporting actors are very good considering their relatively weak writing provided to them. Soo does well, but Gordon has some of the best lines. Peters on the other hand is completely underutilised, though she does have an impactful scene with Lucy that I wish was explored further. Nevertheless I enjoyed their presence in the film.
Director and writer Natalie Krinsky tries hard to brush off her history with television and at times the film feels overly dramatic or sentimental in a way that is common on TV. She succeeds in providing a new angle on the formulaic break up flick in a way that a younger generation might appreciate, with funny quips and zingers perfectly included for inclusion in the trailer, but the antics fail to please at many turns. It lacks organic and natural storytelling that makes you feel genuinely heart warmed..
A subplot that gives some insight into Lucy’s state of mind is a superb inclusion and really provides some depth to the character, but by this time, it feels too little too late. The film may need to be added to The Broken Hearts film gallery for movies that could have been so much more.