I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy.
I think that, when executed well, a romantic comedy can make for an incredibly entertaining and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, a lot of romantic comedies fail to provide that worthwhile experience. It’s a pretty crowded genre, so a lot of rom-coms just copy what the last successful film did and hope it works out.
However, every now and then a film will come along and break up this monotony. It’ll introduce its own twists and turns and breathe some new life into the genre. “The Broken Hearts Gallery” admirably tries to be this, though it does fall a bit short.
“The Broken Hearts Gallery,” which opened in theaters this past weekend, is the directorial debut of Natalie Krinsky. According to her IMDb page, it’s the first project she’s worked on since writing and producing an episode of “Red Band Society” in 2014. The story follows a young artist named Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) who, after a recent break up, decides to open an art gallery dedicated to those who are struggling to move on from a relationship. The contents of the gallery consist of various trinkets people have kept from their past relationships. Helping Lucy in her artistic endeavors is a young entrepreneur named Nick (Dacre Montgomery), who dreams of opening his own hotel in New York City. The two encourage and support each other's passions and eventually begin to form a relationship of their own.
By centering itself around the ideas of heartbreak and moving on, “The Broken Hearts Gallery” does a decent job separating itself from the many other rose-tinted romantic comedies you’ll find on streaming services. The premise of this film is interesting, the characters are likable and the performances are strong. However, in execution, the editing and script leave something to be desired, which ultimately stops “The Broken Hearts Gallery” from living up to its potential.
To put it plainly, this is a very poorly edited film, and it almost feels unfinished on a couple of occasions.
Most of the mistakes in the editing stem from how the scenes are organized and put together. In a few moments it feels as if a scene has been cut short — as if what was originally a longer conversation was severely clipped down to fit a time restraint. There are cuts mid-conversation, but they don’t cut to a different scene or shot. Instead, they cut to the same shot of characters talking, except they’ll be in different poses and at a different point in their discussion. Usually, cuts like this can show the passing of time and emphasize the length of a conversation, but here they’re so sudden and random that it’s confusing. It feels as if the scenes needed to be condensed for time, so the entire midsection was cut out with the hopes that the audience wouldn’t notice. In reality, these cuts make the scene feel jagged like it lacks any sense of flow in the dialogue, which distracts the viewer from actually paying attention to the conversation itself.
Additionally, the script failed to handle its characters well.
The characters themselves are great. They’re funny, likable and well-portrayed by their performers. They’re everything you would want the main characters in a rom-com to be, but it feels as if the story doesn’t know what to do with them. The characters have conflicts, but only a few scenes later they seem to have entirely forgotten about them.
There’s one scene in particular where Nick and Lucy hit a bit of a snag and the nature of their relationship is in question, but then in the next scene the characters are interacting with each other as usual, almost as if nothing had even happened. It’s confusing to the viewer because it’s unclear how their relationship is progressing, which makes it difficult to become attached to them as a couple because you’re not even sure that they are.
That’s just one example, but this is a problem that comes up several times throughout the film’s runtime. It’s not a detrimental issue to the film, but it is one that refuses to go away. It holds the film back from really becoming great, which it easily could’ve been.
I don’t want to critique the film too harshly because I honestly did enjoy watching “The Broken Hearts Gallery.” Viswanathan and Montgomery are both great in the leading roles, and they have excellent chemistry with one another. Even the supporting cast, consisting of Phillipa Soo, Molly Gordon and Utkarsh Ambudkar, gives solid performances and was a ton of fun to watch. One of the most important jobs of a director is to get the best performances out of their cast as they can — Krinsky excelled at that.
Despite the film’s flaws, I think “The Broken Hearts Gallery” is a pretty solid debut from Krinsky. Based on the story's premise, the characters created to inhabit that story and the performances that brought those characters to life, the film showcases a lot of potential in Krinsky’s directing and creative abilities.
“The Broken Hearts Gallery” may not be the best rom-com to ever be made, but at least it tries to do something different. I’m not sure if I would recommend running out to a theater to see it, but I think it’s entertaining enough to certainly be worth a watch on a streaming service down the road.