Love is usually a foolish game…
The Broken Hearts Gallery plays into the usual rom-com tropes but manages to thrive thanks to excellent execution and a star making leading performance.
What if you saved a souvenir from every relationship you’ve ever been in? The Broken Hearts Gallery follows the always unique Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York City, who also happens to be an emotional hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create The Broken Heart Gallery, a pop-up space for the items love has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads, encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the romantics out there, including Lucy herself.
The reason The Broken Hearts Gallery works so exceptionally well is because even though it is playing from a very familiar playbook, it does so with a sly wink and a knowing glare that throws cynicism out the door and gives us a feel good moment at the cinema that feels earned and not forced.
Writer/Director Natalie Krinsky in her directorial debut shows some confidence that isn’t always seen in a feature debut. This film flashes all the familiar moments that you’d expect out of the genre but it’s rare to see such a knowing wink to the audience as it actually kind of acknowledges the entire silliness of the genre but also admits our inherent need to want to be loved by someone.
It’s a rare thing to see a movie that is both predictable and exceptionally smart all at the same time and it’s a credit to Krinsky to craft something that is oozing with this much natural charm throughout. With some stellar production design, a lively soundtrack and an ensemble that knows to take the material seriously (but at the right moments) it’s a piece of pop culture that knows exactly what it is and is anchored by a stellar leading performance.
Geraldine Viswanathan has been carving out a name for herself in recent years with some standout performances in Bad Education and Blockers but here she really has the standout performance that I think we all knew she was capable of. She’s a modern woman who is strong and independent but also acknowledges that fact that she still wants a boy to really like her. She’s sensitive, vulnerable but also laughs out loud funny all at the same time and it takes the kind of skill that we don’t always appreciate to be able to walk that line. It’s a powerhouse of a comedic performance because she’s not just leaning into the jokes and allowing her character work to shine.
The ensemble that is supporting her is quite solid with some familiar faces in Suki Waterhouse, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Dacre Montgomery, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Shelia McCarthy and Bernadette Peters but that are exactly that. This is the vehicle for Geraldine to shine and she does so in spades.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is really a universal love story. It’s the one that knows how silly the drama between men and women can be but also about how vital it can actually be too. It’s the rom-com that the ladies can even bring their boyfriends too; it’s just a hell of a lot of fun.