FILM REVIEW: THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY sets up a great premise for rom-com gold, but strikes out.


Despite a pair of charismatic leads in Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery, THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY delivers fluff instead of feeling.

There’s something to watching a really good romantic comedy. You need an interesting premise and compelling leads. It’s crucial to have some solid comedic supporting characters to pick up your lead character’s spirits and urge them onto following their feelings despite the obstacles of misunderstanding and doubt that will inevitably be hurled their way. Most importantly, it’s crucial to have a great premise that draws the leads together or keeps them apart. You can look at the greats like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman, or even 50 First Dates to see how all of these ingredients come into play to make rewatchable and heartwarming romantic comedies that stand the test of time.

That’s a big reason why The Broken Hearts Gallery, opening in theaters September 11th, largely disappoints. While it features a great charismatic lead in Geraldine Viswanathan, a great supporting cast, and premise behind it, and a compelling romantic lead opposite Viswanathan in Stranger Things’ Dacre Montgomery, the film largely never gets out of first gear in terms of mining relatable depth in the characters presented here and, in doing so, largely gives us a feature-length film with sitcom misunderstandings and set-ups that seems all the more disappointing given the opportunity for more with the premise and players present.

Viswanathan plays Lucy, a gallery assistant in New York who aspirationally dreams of her own gallery one day. At the opening of her artist boyfriend Max’s (Utkarsh Ambukar) new show, she spies him with another woman and realizes her relationship is not on the solid monogamous footing she thought it was on and breaks down in public. As she leaves the gallery in tears, she mistakenly gets in the car of would-be hotelier Nick (Montgomery), whom she mistakes for her Uber driver, and their bizarre meet-cute seems to promise a relationship in the making. Lucy has a bizarre affinity for collecting detritus from her past relationships and after an intervention interlude filled with wine from her besties Nadine (Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo) and Amanda (Booksmart’s Molly Gordon), she decides to open a “Broken Hearts Gallery” of memento mori of lost loves to try to help others get over past relationships and move on with the help of Nick, whom she runs into again at a Roy Choi restaurant as he thwarts her from stalking Max.

By and large, this is a great premise that on its face would show Lucy grow as a person and Nick would find an attraction to her grow for his own character development. We get this to some degree. The problem being the film doesn’t really shift tones much. Lucy is largely stuck in not getting over Max and continues stalking him an trying to get back with him through the film which largely neuters Nick’s development as well as he is stuck being reactive towards Lucy. Lucy’s hyper nature channels the worst of Lena Dunham’s Girls’ lead at times and keeps her in this comedic sitcom mode that starts to grate by the film’s halfway point and makes her friends in Nadine and Amanda seem more like plot devices rather than people. This is a huge disappointment given the range of both actresses, especially Gordon who showed so much range in Booksmart, and Soo, who is given very little to do here but is still given an opportunity to sing as a nod to her fame in Hamilton. First-time writer/director Natalie Krinsky, who comes from a background in shows like Gossip Girl, doesn’t really amp the film’s emotional core past the depth of sitcom melodrama. We get these little interludes throughout the film straight out of When Harry Met Sally, mining these character’s past failed relationships in a mirror to Sally’s interludes of happily married couples, but these don’t add to the film. The most telling is one from Suki Waterhouse, where her character says, “I don’t even know why I’m here,” which speaks to the messy way the film handles a lot of its characterization and emotional beats throughout the runtime. That being said, Montgomery and Viswanathan have an effortless charisma and their chemistry and on-screen presence keep the film afloat largely. By and large, the movie doesn’t work without their heavy lifting and even then the film’s setpieces do them no favors.

If you’re looking for a fluff rom-com where you can turn your mind off, The Broken Hearts Gallery may play well for you. But despite some great casting and good production values, the film struggles to do anything with its premise, and its clear that Krinsky is more interested in the things that make the movie not work than what would elevate the film to something memorable versus being a forgettable run-of-the-mill comedy.