By Kirsten Coachman
At some point in our lives, we have all saved a souvenir following the end of a relationship: A ticket stub. A tiny trinket. A stuffed animal. A postcard. (You get my drift.)
In The Broken Hearts Gallery, written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan, Bad Education) has been broken up with. Again. As she scrambles away from an embarrassing public moment, Lucy gets into what she mistakenly believes is her Uber and meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery, Stranger Things), who decides to give the stranger in his backseat a ride home.
They unexpectedly cross paths again–this time at a restaurant–as Lucy, at her roommates’ urging to rid herself of the “ex memorabilia” in her bedroom, attempts to return items belonging to her most recent ex, Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brittany Runs a Marathon). During the course of the evening, Lucy explains her bag of items to Nick, who offers to hold onto them, and, in a bid to help her detach, hangs Max’s tie from a nail in the balcony of his hotel that’s currently under construction. When the tie is joined by a mysterious map that’s been nailed to the same wall, Lucy decides to turn the melancholy mini gallery into a space for those with broken hearts looking to let go of keepsakes from relationships past.
I adored Viswanathan in the role of Lucy–she possesses a strong knack for comedic timing, and her character’s passion for art really comes through her performance on screen. The chemistry between the actress and her leading man, Montgomery, was another highlight. Even though Nick initially is not on board with the gallery being formed in his hotel, Lucy’s zeal for the project slowly wins him over as the two get to know one another.
The film also captures the importance of being surrounded by good friends that help keep you in check when things go off the rails (even if they do quietly bet on your roller coaster love life). In a film that has many bright spots, Molly Gordon (Booksmart) and Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) absolutely shine as Lucy’s hilarious BFFs, Amanda and Nadine. The duo encapsulate what we love about our best friends: They’re there to support and uplift Lucy, but they’re also not afraid to give her a kick in the butt when the situation calls for it.
While The Broken Hearts Gallery doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to romantic comedies, it is certainly one that feels grounded and far more relatable when it comes to matters of the heart. A film like this could have solely leaned on the strength of its cast and the basic crux of Lucy wanting to open a gallery, but its exploration of why people hold onto physical items with emotional tethers makes it all the more meaningful.