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"THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY"
(2020) (Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Comedy: With the help of a man she's just met, a twenty-something woman opens an art gallery that features broken relationship memorabilia.
PLOT:

Lucy Gulliver (GERALDINE VISWANATHAN) is a twenty-something art gallery assistant who lives in Brooklyn with her best friends, Amanda (MOLLY GORDON) -- who's dating Jeff (NATHAN DALES) -- and Nadine (PHILLIPA SOO) who seems to be addicted to sleeping with and then breaking up with her many lesbian lovers.

Lucy is dating 35-year-old Max (UTKARSH AMBUDKAR) who runs an art gallery owned by Eva Wolf (BERNADETTE PETERS) and she finally seems happy in her life. Perhaps so much so that maybe she won't need to add to her extensive collection of "memorabilia" she's kept from all of her past romantic relationships.

But then Max's ex-girlfriend reenters the picture and flirts with him at a gallery reception where not only does Lucy lose him, but also her job due to her public behavior. She ends up getting in a car owned by Nick (DACRE MONTGOMERY), mistakenly believing him to be her ride-sharing driver. Despite that not being his job -- he's working on opening a chic hotel with help from his friend Marcos (ARTURO CASTRO) and others -- he decides to give her a ride home.

They later end up meeting again and upon seeing his under construction hotel walls she decides to hang up Max's tie there, labeling it The Broken Hearts Gallery. Soon, word gets out about the unique spot and others contribute items they've kept from failed or fateful relationships. As that happens, Lucy and Nick end up growing closer.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

I don't know what movie first introduced the sing-a-long moment, but it's a common element nowadays in romantic comedies, be that scenes set at bars, weddings or anywhere a karaoke machine might be available.

Such moments are designed to be crowd-pleasers for sure -- what with using popular songs of old where most viewers know most of the lyrics -- but are also often designed to signal that the two main characters have now bonded and their relationship has taken a step forward.

Not surprisingly, the song featured in "The Broken Hearts Gallery" is Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." It occurs, natch, at a karaoke bar where our main character, Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), is partying with her roommates -- Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo) -- and her new friend and sort-of coworker, Nick (Dacre Montgomery). With him and Lucy having since moved on from their awkward "meet cute" scene and initial slight antagonism toward each other, she's arranged for the song and some shots of "liquid encouragement" to convince him to join her on the stage where they belt out the famous song. Like many of its predecessors in past rom-coms, it's a winning moment where we assume the two are going to realize there's more than friendship between them. But then writer/director Natalie Krinsky tosses a monkey wrench into our expectations by reintroducing Lucy's ex, Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who got the film started by dumping her in the first place.

Actually, the enjoyable flick begins with a brief sequence "eight-ish" years ago where we first meet Lucy as an older teen hoarder of romantic breakup knickknacks and memorabilia that she keeps as reminders of what once was. Following the opening credits that use such items as huge objects on the streets of Brooklyn, we see Lucy as happily in love with both Max and her job as an art gallery assistant working for Eva Wolf (Bernadette Peters).

But in just one evening she loses both, runs into Nick who she drunkenly mistakes as her rideshare driver, and eventually decides to open the titular gallery in the chic hotel he's trying to open. It serves as a place of catharsis for others who've yet to follow Queen Elsa's singing advice of "Let it go, Let it go…" this time applied to past relationships that failed due to breakups, deaths, or what have you.

Working within the confines of the usual rom-com formula, Krinsky -- who's making her quite assuredly confident debut -- nonetheless manages to throw a few curveballs into the mix to keep things feeling slightly fresh. That said, anyone who's seen such a film will obviously know pretty much how, when, and where the certain formulaic beats will arrive, but like comfort food will enjoy those and themselves nonetheless.

Viswanathan is quite winning in the part and her chemistry with Montgomery works rather well, with the supporting characters -- that include Arturo Castro and Megan Ferguson as a humorously married couple expecting a baby any moment -- doing their thing in expected but enjoyable ways.

While it might wrap things up too quickly -- the third act reconciliation feels oddly forced and rushed compared to the rest of the film that plays out more leisurely -- it's still an entertaining enough diversion to join the genre pantheon and thus likely won't go breaking the hearts of those who love rom-coms. "The Broken Hearts Gallery" rates as a 6 out of 10.




Reviewed September 8, 2020 / Posted September 11, 2020


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