Of the three teenage girls in Blockers, Geraldine Viswanathan stood out with the best one-liners and timing. Viswanathan has since demonstrated her dramatic range in films like Hala and Bad Education. The Broken Hearts Gallery sees Viswanathan’s return to comedy, this time as a leading lady. Viswanathan brings the same energy to her performance that you’d find in comediennes like Mindy Kaling or Amy Schumer. Like Jennifer Lawrence and Hailee Steinfeld, she also demonstrates a natural gift for switching between over-the-top comedy and more heavy-handed moments. Viswanathan may not be a household name like the aforementioned actresses, but hopefully, this film changes that.
Viswanathan stars as Lucy, a twenty-something-year-old who doesn’t know how to let go of her ex-boyfriends, hoarding a room full of mementos. An especially bad breakup results in Lucy losing her job. The upside is that this leads to a meet-cute with the hunky Nick (Dacre Montgomery), who’s renovating a run-down hotel. Unable to throw away her ex’s tie, Lucy decides to hang it on a wall at the hotel. She’s thus given the idea to open up a gallery where hopeless romantics can leave their old trinkets from past relationships. Nick allows Lucy to use his hotel, but as the two bring broken hearts together, a new romance begins to blossom.
The Broken Hearts Gallery follows a familiar formula that we’ve seen in countless other romantic comedies. It’s all about the execution, though, and this film is greatly elevated by director Natalie Krinsky’s style and script. With her first feature, Krinsky offers no shortage of snarky dialogue mixed in with a sincere romance. At times, it showcases the same wit and creativity you’d find in Annie Hall or 500 Days of Summer. While it lacks the cynical edge of those anti-rom-coms, the film is just sour enough to balance out its sweeter moments.
Montgomery is best known for playing Billy on Stranger Things. As that character, Montgomery could be a charming stud one second and a despicable SOB the next. Montgomery leaves the SOB behind in The Broken Hearts Gallery, letting his likable side shine through. He shares natural chemistry with Viswanathan in a love story that respects all of its characters. Even the exes, while not the nicest people, aren’t the irredeemable jerks you’d find in an Adam Sandler movie. The film is reinforced by memorable supporting performances from Molly Gordon and Tony nominee Phillipa Soo as Lucy’s BFFs, not to mention Bernadette Peters as her boss. The only downside is that Peters doesn’t participate in a karaoke scene.
Following its solid first two acts, The Broken Hearts Gallery slows down a bit as the inevitable third act blues sink in. Even then, however, the characters are so lovable that you’re willing to stick around for the ending, which is a heartwarming one. The film is an undeniable charming. It may not change the world, but it is the kind of lighthearted fare that the world could use, especially in a year like 2020. Leave it to Viswanathan to mend your broken heart.
The Broken Hearts Gallery opens in theaters on September 11.