Big screen romantic comedies reclaim the genre from the recent glut of mediocre streaming offerings with this hugely endearing, gently progressive film guaranteed to elicit warm smiles.
Rising Aussie actor Geraldine Viswanathan, who shined brightly in Blockers (2018) and Bad Education (2020), makes another strong case for her future stardom as Lucy, an aspiring art gallery owner living in New York with her two besties/roommates, played by Phillipa Soo from Hamilton and Molly Gordon from Booksmart.
After being dumped (by Utkarsh Ambudkar from Mulan) and fired on the same day, Lucy meets Nick (Stranger Things breakout Dacre Montgomery, also an Aussie), who is developing a boutique hotel in a historic building.
Prone as she is to holding on to physical mementos from past romances, sentimentalist Lucy decides to stage the titular pop-up exhibition in Nick's building, featuring various strangers' monuments to ended relationships, and it becomes a viral sensation.
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With its casually diverse cast and open-hearted view of romance, The Broken Hearts Gallery ably fulfils the obligations of the cinematic rom-com while softly expanding the boundaries of the genre.
The reality on-screen here may indeed be heightened, but it's presented with a clear-eyed perception of human connection that elevates the proceedings considerably.
A lot of that comes down to Viswanathan, an absolute firecracker who infuses her unapologetically sentimental character with luminescent grace and spry physical comedy chops. She has fantastic chemistry with Montgomery, whose Nick is a long way from Stranger Things' Billy. The rest of the cast of up-and-comers is uniformly excellent, too.
The last few years have seen a flood of Netflix and Netflix-adjacent rom-coms that have flattened the form into teenybopper blandness, and while The Broken Hearts Gallery doesn't turn the genre completely on its head, it's a nice reminder of how uplifting and life-affirming this kind of film can be.
Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery
Director: Natalie Krinsky
Running time: 108 minutes
Rating: M (Offensive language, sexual references & drug references)
Verdict: An effortlessly breezy and likeable romantic comedy that proves the genre still has plenty of interesting places to go.