Produced by David Gross
Written and Directed by Natalie Krinsky
Starring Geraldine Viswanathan,
Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar,
Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Bernadette Peters
An excellent genre movie can follow a highly predictable plot and stay enjoyable. By exploring the characters deeper while meandering rather than running down the well-worn path, romantic comedies manage to stay fresh and fun though we all know they are going to get together at the end. Unfortunately, The Broken Hearts Gallery rigidly speedwalks through the meet-cutes, the touching personal reveal of the past, and any other opportunities to do anything but check the boxes before getting to the telegraphed destination.
Natalie Krinsky’s feature writing-directing debut follows sentimental mid-20s art gallery assistant Lucy, who has a particular obsession with keeping mementos after each heartbreak ranging from stuffed animals to, as her roommate refers to it, “active trash”. Geraldine Viswanathan is overly eager to the point of approaching grating in the first half, but really delivers on emotional opportunities in the moodier second half.
A messy and public breakup with her self-absorbed coworker Max (an underutilized Utkarsh Ambudkar) leads to her mixed-up meet-cute with hunky hotel owner Nick (Dacre Montgomery).
A few more perfunctory run-ins and Lucy comes up with the titular idea to turn the balcony of Nick’s unopened and unfinished hotel into an art gallery dedicated to keepsakes of heartbreak in the hopes that it will allow others to move on.
The setup is so good that it is a shame that the movie lets all the charm wash away down its preternaturally clean New York City storm drains.
The risks are nominal as Nick rarely opens up to show the depths of his debt, and Lucy barges through any obstacle. Without any sense of stakes for the leads, an already manufactured tale feels more Amazon than Etsy. There are many comparisons between Dacre Montgomery and Zac Efron, and one of the best to apply here is that they are at their best feeding off of chemistry with the other lead, whether it be romantic or friendly.
But when there isn’t a connection, that handsomeness comes off as wooden as an Abercrombie model. While they are both charming separately, there is no passion between Lucy and Nick. They may as well have been amiable roommates instead of the romantic leads.
Other characters are even more shallow, but there are a few fun moments here and there that add to the mostly flat movie. The dynamic between Arturo Castro and anyone he is paired with is charming, as well as the friendship between Lucy and her one-dimensional but well-meaning roommates played by Molly Gordon and Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo.
However, by the time the too small “big fight” comes around and we see the great-not-grand gesture, most will have checked out of the hotel.