Heartbreak has been the catalyst for much great art. During a lull in her relationship with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo painted “The Two Fridas” depicting herself on one side with a full heart and with a gaping hole in her chest on the other. David Levithan’s “The Lover’s Dictionary” told a tale of heartbreak through a collection of dictionary entries and Taylor Swift has made a career turning her romantic anguish into art.
In “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” a glossy new rom com starring Geraldine Viswanathan playing in theatres this weekend, a young woman deals with romantic upheaval by turning heartbreak into an art gallery.
Viswanathan is quirky Brooklyn art gallery assistant Lucy, a romantic hoarder, not of hearts but of trinkets from all the men who left her forlorn. The mementos, stuffed animals, bicycle locks, candlesticks and more, clutter her bedroom, acting as a shrine to love gone wrong. Her roommates (Phillipa Soo and Molly Gordon) tell her she can’t have a good relationship “because she’s always mourning the past.” An ex says, “Every time I came over it was like hooking up in a mausoleum.”
When her boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who is also her boss at a tony art Manhattan gallery, suddenly dumps her at a work event, she causes a scene and loses her job. “I know we have 10 years before we all drown in the melting ice caps,” she says before being escorted out, “but I swear the most precious resource is not the ozone. Oh no. It’s honesty.”
Single and unemployed she calls an Uber, jumps into the first car on the block and, in the kind of meet cute that only happens in the movies, meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery) who isn’t an Uber driver, but gives her a lift anyway. Turns out he’s about to open a boutique hotel and it’s there Lucy find purpose as the curator of the Broken Hearts Gallery, a space where people can deposit the detritus of past relationships, leaving behind the pain and moving on to the future. “There are broken people out there who need help moving on,” she says.
“The Broken Hearts Gallery” is Generation-Y answer to “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Sex and the City.” It plays like a regular rom com with all the stuff we expect, the funny, raunchy best friends, the NYC setting (although whenever they step in doors it’s actually Toronto) and there’s even the predictable run through the rain as the beau declares his love.
What doesn’t feel conventional is Viswanathan’s performance. “The Broken Hearts Gallery” is a showcase for the 25-year-old Australian actress’ considerable charisma, sincerity and comedy chops. The story and the surrounding characters feel interchangeable with other rom coms but Viswanathan makes this optimistic ode to empowerment a cute, feel good diversion.