By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Shoddy values undermine the appeal of writer-director Natalie Krinsky’s romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Gallery” (Sony). In fact, the generally debased outlook on matters sexual that drives much of the film’s humor makes it unsuitable for movie fans of any age.
In purely cinematic terms, moreover, the script’s attempt to strike a tone of cute bohemianism misfires. And a good deal of the behavior it chronicles seems far removed from real life.
Take the manner in which the central couple meet. Having just been fired from her job at a New York art gallery by her imperious boss, Eva (Bernadette Peters), and dumped by her boyfriend (and co-worker) Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), our inebriated heroine, Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), summons a Lyft vehicle.
Along chances our hero, aspiring hotelier Nick (Dacre Montgomery). Despite his protestations that he is not a ride-sharing driver, Lucy forces her way into Nick’s car and insists that he is the person who responded to her call. And, this being a movie, he eventually breaks down and drives her home as a favor. Happens all the time, right?
Nick, it turns out, has problems of his own. Unless he can secure a bank loan to cover his mounting expenses, he’ll have to abandon the renovation of his future hostelry.
As she struggles to recover from her breakup with Max, Lucy — who has a mania for hoarding mementos of her past affairs — strikes upon an idea. She’ll create an exhibition to which strangers will be invited to contribute a souvenir of some broken bond in their past. This miscellaneous collection will be housed in Nick’s unfinished hotel.
Lucy and Nick do manage to stay away from the bedroom for a while. But the casual lesbian sex in which Nadine (Phillipa Soo), one of Lucy’s roommates, continually engages is made fodder for jokes. So, too, is the relationship between the couple who round out the household, Amanda (Molly Gordon) and her checked-out but live-in boyfriend Jeff (Nathan Dales).
Aside from the tacky wisecracks, the script includes a fleeting plug for Planned Parenthood, one of whose petitions Lucy stops on the sidewalk to sign, despite being in a hurry. In a similar vein, one of the contributors to Lucy’s display is videotaped in a T-shirt that reads “Keep your politics out of my uterus.”
It would be bad enough if these brief moments were meant as propaganda. Instead, the screenplay seems to take it for granted that viewers already agree with its worldview.
The film contains a frivolous treatment of human sexuality, including jokes referencing homosexuality, promiscuity, contraception and masturbation, cohabitation, two premarital bedroom scenes, incidental approval of legal abortion and drug use, a same-sex kiss, a couple of profanities, several milder oaths, at least one rough term as well as occasional crude and much crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.