thu 20/06/2024

Broken Hearts Gallery review - effortfully entertaining | reviews, news & interviews

Broken Hearts Gallery review - effortfully entertaining

Broken Hearts Gallery review - effortfully entertaining

Natalie Krinsky romcom tries hard and tugs us along

Roomies: Geraldine Viswanathan (centre) in 'Broken Hearts Gallery'

Remember when romcoms didn't try so hard?

That question kept going through my head for the first half, or more, of Broken Hearts Gallery, a film from Canadian writer-director Natalie Krinsky that ultimately in tugging at the heart but has to go through some fairly tortured narrative hoops to get to that point. It's the incidental pleasures that accrue this time round as opposed to the inevitable genre tropes. Who would have thought, for instance, that a passing reference to Kenosha, Wisconsin, would have an entirely new and troubling resonance by the time of this film's release? At such moments, Krinsky's movie contains a real capacity for surprise, even if its story arc seems aggressively preordained.

Barely, for instance, has anything happened before our 26-year-old heroine Lucy (Australian actress Geraldine Viswanathan, sporting a flawless American accent) is being exalted for her adorable-ness, an estimation we might quite like to make for ourselves. What's more, says Lucy, who has been dumped by the caddish Max and is fighting for survival at her job at a trendy downtown gallery in the employ of none other than the eternally ringletted Bernadette Peters, "if you got to know me, you'd be obsessed with me" - a self-assessment worthy of Glenn Close's spurned lover in Fatal Attraction, and we know how that turned out. 

Dacre Montgomery (L) in 'Broken Hearts Gallery', starring Geraldine ViswanathanAnyway, it's on the romantic rebound that a heartsick Lucy recklessly leaps into a car she assumes to be an Uber only to find that the driver is in fact a budding hotelier called Nick (the doe-eyed Dacre Montgomery, a fellow Ozzie) whom Lucy (no surprise here) will soon batter into romantic submission, whereas another iteration of the same chance meeting might find her held captive a la Brie Larson in Room but I digress .... (Montgomery and Viswanathan are pictured above).

Encouraged by the impromptu sisterhood forged by her two female flatmates, Lucy pursues her dream of a broken hearts gallery whereby the various remnants and objects associated with one or another lost love or aborted affair can be pressed into cultural, not to mention psychically rewarding service. Some might dismiss such a venture as the unhelpful musings of a hoarder - a notion the film does in fact entertain - but Lucy sees the importance of preserving these mementoes from the difficult past as a way of getting through the present. Or as Peters's aspish, but not really, Eva Wolff puts it: "Pain, my dear, is inevitable", and the remark resonates beyond the film given the tragic death some years back of this Broadway legend's own husband. 

An overlong script needs obstacles to put in Lucy's way, chief among them the unexpected return into her life of an apologetic Max, whom the personable Utkarsh Ambudkar can't rescue from eternal caddishness. The film is on firmer footing with the amorous hi-jinks of Lucy's wisecracking roomies, who include onetime Hamilton star Phillipa Soo as a lesbian with a new woman, it seems, every week and Molly Gordon as a resident cynic whose own boyfriend would appear to have stuck around for the simple reason that he almost never speaks. (Soo gets the film's funniest line when she rejects the notion of a "birthday week", claiming that no one these days is " a 16th-century monarch".)

The film flits between references, roping in The Notebook and TED Talks one minute and paying due homage to eight years of Barack Obama the next: that last moment comes as a complete, and welcome, surprise. Things come to a tumultuously tearful but inevitably happy ending, propelled by a grand gesture from each of the two likable leads in turn that comes accompanied by the crowd chanting "Love him back": (As group exhortations go, that's rather better than "Lock her up".)  I'm not sure the film really earns the shift from "heartbreak into high art" that it grandly announces along the way, but Viswanathan and a gifted cast work themselves to the bone to win you over and, come the final clinch and a belligerent exhortation or two or three, well, guess what? They succeed,

Things come to a tumultuously tearful but inevitably happy ending, propelled by a grand gesture from the two likable leads in turn


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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