3 out of 5 stars
Does your past define you? This query seems to be the question that writer and director Natalie Krinsky is considering with her directorial debut, The Broken Hearts Gallery. She looks into the lives of those people who hold onto the memories and the objects that represent previous relationships. The story cuts a fine line between allowing history to hold these people's lives for ransom or proving that it can force them to move onto something better.
We are introduced to the effervescent and energetic Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan). A young woman who has managed to maintain a strong connection with her high school friends, Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo). This special bond between these three women has weathered a multitude of life changes, relationships and the quirky personality traits that each possesses. Amanda’s fascination with death, Nadine’s penchant for short term trysts with Russian women and Lucy’s deep-seated hoarding tendency of small trinkets from her failed relations with the men. They live as roommates in New York City and Lucy is about to embark on her career as an art curator.
She seems to have it all, the job and the boyfriend of her dreams as she prepares for the grand opening of the prestigious art gallery of Eva Woolf (Bernadette Peters). Except things are not as they seem and this night rolls from the peak of her life to the valley in an instant. As all of her life falls in on itself, this creative soul stumbles into the aspiring boutique hotel owner, Nick (Dacre Montgomery). It is this serendipitous encounter that leads her to see the value of her collecting fascination and considering turning it into The Broken Heart Gallery. A journey that capitalises on people’s needs to see how they can find something new in life despite the pain they have held onto from the past.
If there is a word that helps to define this formulaic, but imaginative film it would be disorienting. Not a word you would necessarily use to describe a romantic comedy, but it does represent this story well. By all accounts it has all of the earmarks of this generation’s interpretation of romance, but it is Geraldine Viswanathan’s performance that proves to be uniquely confusing. She is hilarious in her delivery and this performance is what makes this whole project work. Yet, her character seems incapable of maintaining a long-term relationship and in her short 26 years of life she seems to have been in more failed romances than someone twice her age. This fact is based on the extensive treasures she has managed to collect over the years. Not something new to the world of rom-coms, but perplexing nonetheless, and a juxtaposition that must rely on a suspension of disbelief to be fully reconciled.
Every other aspect of the film seems to be a lesson in a paint-by-numbers romantic fantasy. The chemistry between Viswanathan and Montgomery is believable, even though it is predictable and Peters successfully fills the void of a wise sage. Each friend represents the standard stereotypes that help to progress the millennial narrative. Then the added hook of this unique gallery of lost love does provide that something special that should draw the romantics of the world to theatres. Yet, this screenplay still proves to be a bit perplexing. Some of it could be blamed on the writer's need to overlay every social agenda item in Western culture on the film or the shared naivety of the central characters' lives. Ultimately, The Broken Hearts Gallery is an entertaining and humorous story of the sexcipades of twenty-somethings that unapologetically knows it’s niche well.
Reel Dialogue: Does your past define you? We end where we began.
Lucy allowed her past to define her and it even represented a figurative prison until she was willing to let it go. Admittedly, we all do it. Each of us holds onto useless trinkets, artefacts and memories that seem harmless, but many times keep us chained to something that we should let go.
Modern psychology encourages us to choose to release hurt and fear. A scientific view of life that shows us that our past cannot hurt you anymore unless you allow it to control your thoughts and actions. Even though these actions are good, is it enough? The real challenge comes down to a change of heart that seems to go beyond human capabilities.
This means taking a step towards the one who can help you to let go of your past. That action will provide you with the forgiveness that all of us so desperately need. Specifically, considering taking your history to the Lord of the Bible. The one who can release you from the shackles of your past.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2