The Broken Hearts Gallery, the debut feature from relative newcomer Natalie Krinsky, is a throwback to the romantic comedies that used to rule the theatrical experience before they were all but abandoned by the major studios. These days, if you want any chance of a lighthearted relationship tale, you have to hope Netflix has you covered. I love romantic comedies as much as the next guy, probably more, but a lot of those offerings leave you feeling like you have had crumbs instead of a full meal. This new feature starring personal favorite Geraldine Viswanathan (Bad Education, Blockers) may not constitute a full-on feast, but it will leave you feeling more satisfied than most recent entries in the genre. The basic scenario is one we have seen countless times; girl meets boy in an endearing meet-cute and the two slowly start to fall in love over the course of their burgeoning friendship. Yes, the movie is not trying to reinvent the wheel, but this is the type of comfort food that we need right now. Seriously, just put two incredibly charming people together with good chemistry (any race, gender, sexuality, etc) and give them a story that makes the audience feel something. The Broken Hearts Gallery is a movie that I have been anticipating for months, and I am happy to report it did exactly what I needed it to do.
Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) is a 26-year-old art gallery assistant in New York who feels very deeply. She is not a person who just casually leaves a relationship once it has run its course. She instead chooses to memorialize the relationship through mementos that she has collected from her time with the person. Exes may come and go, but she has her shrine of keepsakes readily at hand to ensure she can wax nostalgic about lost loves. Less delicate people might call her a hoarder, and despite her objections they do, but such claims are mostly made with love through her best friends and roommates Nadine (Phillipa Soo), who you could say is quite adventurous when it comes to dating around, and Amanda (Molly Gordon), a lovingly hostile law student with a boyfriend (Nathan Dales) who is so quiet that you might mistake him for a mute. These two are the hilarious prototypical best friends that you want feeding her advice throughout the film. A quite-smitten Lucy gets waylaid by her boyfriend and coworker Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brittany Runs A Marathon) when he shows up to a work event with his ex-girlfriend, which causes her to spiral in a spectacular way that leaves her without a boyfriend and without a job. She has just had the worst night of her life, and she just wants to call a rideshare and go home.
Enter Nick (Dacre Montgomery, Stranger Things), a Prius driver who, despite what Lucy keeps insisting when she crawls into his backseat, is not a Lyft driver. In a situation that could only seem sweet in the movies, he still gives her a ride home. Lucy spills her guts to him throughout her ride, and he, of course, is charmed by her. When fate brings them together again, Lucy inadvertently finds her calling as she hastily begins what will be her exhibit for individuals to donate their stories of lost love, The Broken Heart Gallery. The fact that something very similar to this exists in real life should keep you from rolling your eyes from the precious nature of her idea. Nick is trying to rehab an old building into a cool boutique hotel, and he allows Lucy a space for her exhibit in exchange for free physical labor. Cue the journey to the natural conclusion. Geraldine Viswanathan is an absolute star in this role; she is the perfect amount of eccentric without becoming a manic pixie dream girl. Her natural chemistry with Montgomery will keep a smile on your face until the credits start rolling. There is something so satisfying about watching romantic tension build through playful friendship.
The screenplay from Krinsky is self-aware without winking at the audience. She knows the viewer is aware of all of the tropes, but she executes them in a way that jives with the sensibilities of the day. The world she has created is open and accepting in a way that only seems natural from a film being released in 2020. She does an excellent job of making all of the characters three-dimensional and essential to the story. Two characters that nearly steal the show are Marco (Arturo Castro) and Randy (Megan Ferguson), Nick’s best friends who take a shine to Lucy in such an endearing way. Despite my mostly overwhelming appreciation for what this film does well, it does have some issues that keep it from being perfect. Most of the time, the two leads have very natural interactions that play well, but there are some odd moments where they seem very theatrical. By that I mean, you can feel the actors performing which takes you out of the scene somewhat. This is definitely not a persistent issue, but it happened enough times to interrupt my concentration. The film also feels like it is playing it a bit safe in its execution as to not alienate important segments of the audience. This does not need to be a Blockers-level raunchy comedy, but a little more bite would not have hurt. Despite this, The Broken Hearts Gallery was a really joyous viewing experience. The two leads are simply wonderful, and their romance is one that goes down easy for the soul. If you have been looking for something to soothe your longing rom-com-loving heart, get excited for this one.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings The Broken Hearts Gallery to Blu-Ray with a really lovely 1080p video presentation in 2.00:1. The image is clean with the bright color palette popping off the screen. The film employs nice splashes of bold colors within the production design, which makes for a very striking image. The black levels are appropriately deep and inky with no discernible digital noise. The flesh tones are natural with a magnificent amount of detail present in close-ups, especially. The presentation provides a significant amount of depth on display, especially in the interior shots. The production design from the burgeoning hotel to the art gallery, along with the fabrics of clothing, provide crystal clear textural details. This is as solid of a presentation as any modern movie should provide on Blu-Ray.
This Blu-Ray comes with a stellar DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that recreates this playful world perfectly. Dialogue is the driving force of the film, and it always comes through crisp and clear without being clipped by any competing sounds. There is very little in the way of action sequences, but the environmental sounds of the world engage the surround speakers in a really pleasing way. Ambient sounds are precisely placed in the rear channels. The music in the film fills the speakers in a wonderful, well-balanced way. There are a few exaggerated moments in the film that engage the low end in a really pleasing manner. The audio track is not pushed to the limit with this content, but it nonetheless proves to be an excellent sounding presentation for this feature.
- Gag Reel: A nearly three-minute collection of flubbed and forgotten lines, horsing around, dance parties and more. I always derive great joy from these types of features, and this is no exception.
- “Lucy” Vignette: A minute-long look at the character of Lucy with actor Geraldine Viswanathan.
- “Nick” Vignette: A minute-long look at the character of Nick with actor Dacre Montgomery.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is the exact film I needed to whisk me away from these pandemic times. Nothing quite hits the spot like two lovable people flirting and falling for one another while offering up some substantial laughs. It may not be a new classic in the genre, but it breathes life into a section of movies that has been substantially underserved in the last decade. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray with a wonderful A/V presentation and a couple entertaining special features. We could all use an escape right now, so do not let this one pass you by if you want to be charmed. Highly Recommended
The Broken Hearts Gallery is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.