The Broken Hearts Gallery

 

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In this formulaic sitcom, a compulsive hoarder attempts to turn her junk into art.

   
Broken Hearts Gallery, The

Memorial daze: Dacre Montgomery and Geraldine Viswanathan

 

It is estimated that there are more than 1.2 million serious hoarders in the UK alone. It is a disorder that has spawned a franchise of TV documentaries, from Channel 4's The Hoarder Next Door to TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. And yet the problem has been all but ignored by the cinema. Until now. Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan) is not just a hoarder but she keeps memorabilia from shattered relationships, storing everything from toenail clippings and orthodontic retainers to car keys of boyfriends past. She is the kind of person who says things like, “crying is my favourite activity” and “making a fool of oneself is one of life’s great pleasures.” And how about: “I can grout. That’s a thing, right?” This is sitcom-speak, dialogue never uttered by a real human being. And Lucy is the sort of character that might have escaped screaming from a movie like The Big Sick or Booksmart, except more irritatingly so. She is the year’s most insufferable, dysfunctional protagonist.

 

Regrettably, first-time writer-director Natalie Krinsky starts as she means to go on. So the film opens with a prologue – attended by the caption ‘8-ish years ago’ – that establishes our heroine, her disorder and her two best girlfriends, the type of loyal, wise-cracking intimates that you only find in comedies of this ilk. One is a lesbian, the other has an omnipresent boyfriend who never speaks. Then, after the opening credits, we jump forward to New York where Lucy is singing the praises of her new beau, who not only owns his own fridge but has coffee table books. “She seems so happy…” one of them says. And then we have the ironic segue to find Lucy in tears, declaring it is the worst night of her life, having just lost her boyfriend and her job as an art gallery assistant. Still blubbing, she steps off the sidewalk into a car and empties her heart out to the driver, who takes her back to her apartment. But Lucy is so consumed with self-pity that she is unaware that she’s just hiked a ride with a complete stranger, who takes her home out of compassion. He is Nick (Dacre Montgomery), a rough composite of Chris Pine and Jared Leto. Coincidentally, she bumps into Nick again – how small is New York? – and he takes her back to his place, which he’s converting into a boutique hotel. Being Lucy, she immediately sees it as an opportunity to open her own gallery, to exhibit the detritus of people’s broken hearts – and she won’t take no for an answer...

 

As Nick, Dacre Montgomery (of Netflix’s Stranger Things) gives the best performance and at times one even believes he’s a real person. But as the quirky, multiplex-ready tropes of the genre are trotted out, this critic spent more time admiring Dacre and Geraldine’s American accents (they were both born in Australia) than following the plot. Everybody else acts to the gods, making sure their one-liners really, really count. Sheila McCarthy, as a patient suffering from early onset dementia, announces that she has a body “as tight as a Mormon teenager.” Besides the explanatory flashbacks, the meticulously located pop songs (Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus, Cutting Crew), there’s an embarrassing karaoke sequence and a scene where a squiffy Lucy falls over on stage during an impassioned speech, all lubricating the downward slope to the toe-curlingly predictable climax.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Bernadette Peters, Sheila McCarthy, Arturo Castro, Suki Waterhouse, Nathan Dales, Ego Nwodim, Megan Ferguson, Taylor Hill.

 

Dir Natalie Krinsky, Pro David Gross, Screenplay Natalie Krinsky, Ph Alar Kivilo, Pro Des Zazu Myers, Ed Shawn Paper, Music Genevieve Vincent, Costumes Lea Carlson.

 

TriStar Pictures/Stage 6 Films/No Trace Camping-Sony Pictures.

108 mins. USA/Canada. 2020. Rel: 11 September 2020. Cert. 12A.