Film & TV

‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’ Is Exactly What the World Needs Right Now

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Sony Pictures Entertainment

A young woman is haunted by the ghost of relationships past. She collects knick-knacks from ex-lovers in an attempt to preserve memories even as she’s living through them — to the detriment of her love life.

Released in theaters Sept. 11, “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” written and directed by Natalie Krinsky — and executive produced by fan-favorite pop artist Selena Gomez — follows Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan) in the aftermath of getting dumped, publicly humiliated and fired from her job as an art gallery assistant all in one night. 

Boozed-up and befuddled, she mistakenly gets into a stranger’s car after an event thinking it’s her rideshare. It sounds like the setup to a horror movie, but luckily Nick (Dacre Montgomery) is behind the wheel. Despite his protestations, he’s amused by Lucy’s ranting and drops her safely at her apartment. 

After a few chance meet-ups, Lucy and Nick form a tentative friendship. Late one night, he shows her the old YMCA he’s turning into a boutique hotel. Nick is strapped for cash and the project is on the brink of disaster, but Lucy is immediately smitten with it. 

Viswanathan is endearing as Lucy and her performance breathes life into the film. She brings charm and sincerity to Lucy’s joyously bubbly personality, and her chemistry with Montgomery tingles with electricity. 

Still struggling to let go of trinkets from her relationship with her subtly sleazy ex-boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), Nick convinces Lucy to hang Max’s tie on a wall in the hotel and leave it there for the night. She remarks that it looks like an art exhibit, and thus the Broken Hearts Gallery is born. 

The project takes off as a social media sensation, and people from far and wide come to deposit long-hoarded mementos from ruined relationships. Soon Lucy is living her dream by curating her very own gallery and collecting donations to fund the hotel’s construction.

Courtesy of TriStar Pictures “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, was released in theaters Sept. 11.

In terms of structure, the movie doesn’t do anything too radical. “The Broken Hearts Gallery” is a formulaic romantic comedy by all accounts, but formulaic doesn’t mean stale. The film hits all the genre-standard plot beats while still feeling fun and refreshing. Why else would you watch a rom-com, if not for quirky meet-cutes, dramatic third-act curveballs and grand romantic gestures?

“The Broken Hearts Gallery” is vibrant and colorful, like an LA pop-up exhibit. On the surface it’s a typical rom-com, but underneath lies a story about how art can be an act of communal healing. It’s that depth which makes the film worthwhile. When Nick learns the origins of Lucy’s hoarding tendencies, the revelation sheds a new light on the ways our coping mechanisms can harm us, and how cathartic it feels to finally let go.

Lucy’s gallerist idol Eva Woolf (Bernadette Peters) sums the theme up well: “Pain, my dear, is inevitable; it’s what you do with it that matters.” That message feels especially relevant in the midst of a pandemic where people have been relying on art to get through quarantine.

Watching “The Broken Hearts Gallery” feels like curling up on the couch in your favorite sweatshirt to eat Ben and Jerry’s and watch reruns of your favorite show. There isn’t supposed to be chocolate chips in your ice cream, but you find one anyway and it’s an entirely welcome and pleasant surprise. In other words: comforting, sweet and perfect for a Saturday night.

“The Broken Hearts Gallery,” rated PG-13, is playing in theaters nationwide.

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