Ah, the romantic comedy, with all its trappings and tropes finds a new outlet in The Broken Hearts Gallery. Somewhere here is a good to great idea, but its formulaic nature is maddening to where when I wasn't fighting to stay awake I was rolling my eyes at it all.
Perky Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) has a habit of holding on to random keepsakes from all her past boyfriends, a habit that drives her two besties Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo) crazy. The three lifelong friends and roomies wander through New York in various stages of relationships. Nadine has nothing but physical relationships with a gaggle of beauties whom she never seems to remember their names while Amanda has a longstanding relationship with Jeff (Nathan Dales), who is perpetually mute.
Lucy gets dumped by her latest boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar) and fired by her art gallery boss Eva Woolf (Bernadette Peters) the same night for making a drunken fool out of herself. In her despondency, Lucy gets into the car of Nick (Dacre Montgomery) whom she consistently mistakes for her Lyft driver.
At this point I'd like to point out how dangerous it is to get into a perfect stranger's car without verifying that it is your actual Lyft driver, but Lucy is so devastated/oblivious that she does so even after Nick insists he isn't her driver.
Another random meeting with Nick brings her into his orbit, and she more or less imposes herself on his life when she takes empty space in his unfinished boutique hotel and is inspired to create "The Broken Hearts Gallery", where she can leave the keepsakes from her past love affairs and inspire others to do likewise. The idea becomes a hit and over time, despite a few romantic bumps in the road, Lucy and Nick discover that their own hearts need not be broken.
I should be softening as I advance towards the twilight of my days, but I found myself more and more irritated by almost everything in The Broken Hearts Gallery.
It's a sign of how oblivious to current film and television that I had no idea who Viswanathan or Montgomery are (not having seen either Blockers or Stranger Things). I figure writer/director Natalie Krinsky was going for "adorkable" with regards to Lucy, but to me, she came across as an almost Satanically stupid woman. She's the type who appears to think Sex in the City is a documentary series and behaves accordingly. She's not a manic pixie dream girl, but she is quite manic, has kind of a pixie manner, lives in a dream world, and is a girl.
There's a frantic, almost unhinged manner to Lucy that she comes across as less "endearing" and more "flat-out bonkers". Her actions, her total immaturity, her own words make her look like a loon. "If you got to know me, you'd be obsessed with me", she tells Nick at one point, displaying either an almost breathtaking narcissism or a total break from reality.
It's hard for me to judge whether Viswanathan is a good actress because this part is so cliched it gives her nothing but exaggerated manners and scenes where she appears to be literally insane. To be fair a lot of The Broken Hearts Gallery plays as ninth-level sitcom, a script that even the writers of Life With Lucy would reject as far too stupid.
As if to compensate for Viswanathan's frantic manner, Montgomery is virtually catatonic as Nick. He seems quite at ease to placate this rather shallow, barely sane woman in her sense of importance. In truth, all the characters seem to coddle her ideas and whims no matter how dumb they may be.
It's a terrible disservice to have Bernadette Peters in your film and have her do so little.
A lot of The Broken Hearts Gallery is quite sitcom-like, which perhaps isn't surprising given that Krinsky started out writing for television, though to be fair I don't count Gossip Girl as a sitcom.
You know where every bit is going: the silent boyfriend (itself a gimmick) who will eventually speak, the reason Nick is naming his boutique hotel "Chloe", the last-minute declarations of love.
Is that why so many found it funny? I know the few in the theater were laughing. I know many people who love the film, finding it quirky and endearing not unlike how the film wants me to look upon Lucy.
I just happened to find her insipid, witless and full of herself. In that respect, I found my feelings for Lucy matched my feelings for The Broken Hearts Gallery.