The Broken Hearts Gallery
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I must confess that at present, my most enjoyable cinema outings have been escapist fare.
Whether psycho thrillers ('Unhinged'), horror ('The Vigil'), fairy tales ('Pinocchio'), sci-fi action ('Tenet'), or comedies ('An American Pickle'), I’ve been a lot happier engaging with tried and tested genre pieces – regardless of their variable quality – than grimly serious cinema such as 'The Painted Bird', which I’m still not sure I can summon the will to sit through.
That’s before I even mention the binge of happy-place re-releases I indulged in over the summer, a sumptuous buffet of 'Back to the Future', 'The Empire Strikes Back', 'Jurassic Park', 'Flash Gordon', 'The Lord of the Rings', Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster back catalogue, and more.
Perhaps it is the difficult times in which we live, but that my cinematic urges should presently lurch towards comfort food is understandable, given that we’re all apparently stuck in a second-rate sci-fi contagion dystopia.
Enjoy a couple of hours of charming and cute escapism.
I therefore approached debut writer/director Natalie Krinsky’s romantic comedy 'The Broken Hearts Gallery' with this in mind, hoping to enjoy a couple of hours of charming and cute escapism.
Is it a great film? No. Does it deliver the rom-com beats? Absolutely.
It may be utterly predictable, but the tried and tested formula not only works, but feels like something of a relief for those of us heartily sick of the endless misery of world news.
The plot involves art gallery assistant Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), who obsessively collects memorabilia from previous relationships.
After her most recent romantic dalliance goes pear shaped, she hops into what she assumes is an Uber, insisting floundering hotel entrepreneur Nick (Dacre Montgomery) drives her home.
Lucy displays her relationship memorabilia in Nick's work-in-progress hotel renovation.
This comedy of errors “meet cute”, if you’ll forgive the horrible screenwriting term, leads to Nick allowing Lucy to display her relationship memorabilia in his work-in-progress hotel renovation.
She invites others to contribute their monuments to personal heartbreak. Soon the innovation trends on social media, leading to greater success for both Nick and Lucy.
Of course, along the way, they become attracted to one another, but there are plenty of the usual obstacles in the way of true love.
The chemistry between the leads works well, with Viswanathan proving particularly charming as her outgoing, tenacious, unfailingly positive character. Montgomery by contrast is a more introverted, glass-half-empty kind of guy, who as per genre tradition is dragged into all kinds of situations he’d rather avoid.
But of course, this is all good for him because it’s getting him out of his shell, and getting him to admit he has feelings.
There’s a good running joke about a boyfriend who never speaks.
You know the drill. It’s a tried and tested routine in everything from 'Bringing Up Baby' to 'What’s Up Doc'? Not that this is in the class of either of the aforementioned films, but it is funny at times, especially in scenes involving Lucy’s flatmates, there’s a good running joke about a boyfriend who never speaks.
The inevitable romance builds nicely, even if you can see the big act two climax spanner-in-the-works coming a mile off.
But themes of letting go of past baggage – literally and figuratively – raises this above average with just the right amount of cynical melancholia; a spoonful of salt that helps the sugar go down.
I left the cinema feeling better than when I came in.
The traditional “grand gesture” finale is utterly contrived, but ticks the box well enough, and quite honestly, I left the cinema feeling better than when I came in.
For that reason alone, if this is your kind of thing, 'The Broken Hearts Gallery', or as Sir Humphrey Appleby might have entitled it, 'The Fractured Cardiovascular System Exhibition', is well worth a look.