As Hollywood icons Carrie Fisher and Meryl Streep famously said, “take your broken heart, make it into art”.
Such a quote has been ingrained in the minds, diaries, Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds of hopeless romantics around the world who have tried to see the silver lining of that utterly gut-wrenching feeling – heartbreak.
One young woman that truly lives by this quote is Lucy Gulliver, the quirky protagonist in Natalie Krinsky’s directorial debut, 'The Broken Hearts Gallery'. In the way that Taylor Swift reflects on past relationships by alluding to everyday items like scarves, cardigans and garden gates in her chart-topping songs, Lucy (played by Australia’s own Geraldine Viswanathan) literally holds onto such mementos from her past relationships.
Her two best friends and roommates Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadene (Phillipa Soo) think she has a hoarding issue, but Lucy believes holding onto her ex’s ties, gum wrappers and retainers is a memento of her romantic journey and a tribute to the relationships that have helped form her into the woman that she is.
But Lucy’s collection takes on a different meaning after one disastrous night where she is dumped by her boyfriend Max and loses her dream job as a gallery assistant at a high-end New York gallery. After a chance encounter with the charming Nick (played by Perth’s Dacre Montgomery) who is in the midst of opening a new hotel, Lucy decides to curate her own art gallery – The Broken Hearts Gallery – with the hopes of mending not only her own heart but the hearts of all New Yorkers who are struggling to let go from the one that got away.
In typical romantic comedy fashion, Nick and Lucy are two polar opposites, who go from strangers to friends to having feelings for one another. But complications ensue as the film progresses because they’re both clinging onto just more than souvenirs from their past.
Gulliver and Montgomery have great on-screen chemistry together, but it’s so good that you never really sense that they are ever ‘just friends’ or even acquaintances. They seem so comfortable with each other that when the film ventures into ‘will they?’ or ‘won’t they?’ territory there really is no dramatic tension, as we’ve seen them acting practically like a loved-up couple throughout the whole film.
Their chemistry is so lively in comparison to Lucy’s chemistry with her ex, that when Max re-enters her life you’re not even batting an eyelid. That’s also part of the issue in this Selena Gomez-produced film. The ‘complications’ and curveballs come so late into the game that there really is little impact and the stakes never feel particularly high.
Viswanathan delivers a quirky, likeable performance as the film’s heroine and proves she’s got the chops to be a leading rom-com star, while Montgomery fits the bill as the charming, love interest. Tony-nominee Phillipa Soo who garnered worldwide recognition as the ‘helpless’ and devoted wife of Alexander Hamilton in the Disney+ smash 'Hamilton', plays against type here as Lucy’s womanising best friend and delivers most of the laughs; but it’s Tony Award-winner, Bernadette Peters who steals the show as Lucy’s idol and former boss Eva. Sheila McCarthy delivers a poignant performance in a memorable scene that gives viewers understanding behind Lucy’s attachment to her past in a bittersweet plot point.
While the performances are mostly fantastic, Krinsky’s direction is a little off and consequently some of the jokes fall a little flatter than how they should have and there’s some awkward editing choices which distract from the narrative.
While the movie is co-produced by Selena Gomez and would have made an appropriate starring-vehicle for the ‘Rare’ singer, Gomez’s involvement is mostly hidden from the end product with the exception of her appropriately titled song 'Souvenir' attached to the film’s promotional trailer.
‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’ is by no means a masterpiece, but as the film suggests there’s still beauty in all our imperfections, whether that be our failed relationships, shattered dreams broken hearts or imperfect films like this one that still have glimmers of beauty despite its flaws.