Lucy Gulliver is what you might call a hoarder of relationship memorabilia. She can’t help but save all sorts of mementos as emotional milestones from her past relationships: the retainer that one early boyfriend always removed when they made out, a rubber duck that he won at the fair, a condom wrapper from … well, you get the idea. And at 26, Lucy has had a lot of relationships—something that her packed bedroom shelves can attest to.
But everything eventually goes sideways in her love affairs—just like with Max, her most recent fling. And when it does, she finds another box or bag for her new stock of love tokens, then goes out and drinks herself into a stupor in preparation for the next relational leap and inevitable nosedive.
After Max, however, a drunken Lucy ends up in some stranger’s car that she mistakes for her Uber ride. And for some reason, the nice guy behind the wheel, Nick, takes pity on her and gives her a lift home anyway. It’s awkward, but the two strike up what you might call a reluctant friendship.
Next thing you know, Lucy’s helping Nick with his boutique hotel project. She might as well, since her last drunken break-up got her fired from her job as an art gallery assistant. And when Nick shows Lucy an unfinished balcony area in the building that he’s been working on, she comes up with an idea.
What if, Lucy ventures, Nick were to let her create an art gallery on that detritus-filled balcony. In exchange, she’ll help him decorate the rest of the hotel with the avant-garde artistic skills she’s developed.
What kind of art gallery? Well, why not put together a collection of things that people keep from past relationships? After all, Lucy has some key contributions all ready to go. People could come, leave their unwanted treasures behind and leave their pain behind, too. It could serve as both art and therapy!
Nick doesn’t believe for a second that it could really happen. But after a crude beginning and a few social media posts, Lucy’s brainstorm actually takes shape. People leave their relationship keepsakes and offer a donation or two as well. Hey, one man’s junk is another person’s artistic expression.
And just like that, The Broken Hearts Gallery starts showing signs of life.
Lucy’s roommates, Nadine and Amanda, are both very supportive during Lucy’s heartbreaks and disappointments. They attempt to protect her at times and comfort her in others. And Nick turns out to be the one earnest guy who’s ever been a part of Lucy’s life.
One of Lucy’s roommates, Amanda, talks about taking an ex’s yarmulke. And she recounts a sexual experience at a bat mitzvah. The camera catches sight of a large neon cross in a sign shop. An older woman states that her body is as “tight as a Mormon teenager.” Someone talks about belief in reincarnation.
We see one couple make out passionately and then wake up the next day in bed together (both covered). Several characters talk about their same-sex lovers. Nadine, one of Lucy’s roommates, spends a protracted amount of time making out with another woman in a coffee shop. She also kisses Lucy while showing her how to properly break up with someone. Lucy and Nick kiss on a few occasions.
Sexual and suggestive references are fairly frequent here, everything from noisy roommate sex to masturbation to someone’s long list of sexual partners to a variety of different activities associated to both hetero and same-sex intercourse. We also hear multiple explicit conversations about the male anatomy and sex toys.
A number of women at an art gallery event wear formfitting dresses. Lucy and others wear cleavage-revealing tops. Someone wears a T-shirt declaring, “Keep Your Politics Out of My Uterus.”
While drunk, Lucy trips and falls hard. Nick gets hit in the face by someone who falsely suspects he’s been violent with another woman.
One f-word—as well as two stand-ins in the form of “frickin” and “f-ing”—are joined by some 10 s-words. There are also a handful of uses each of “d–n,” “a–,” “b–ch” and “h—.” The word “crap” makes an appearance four times, too.
God’s and Jesus’ names are both misused a total of 18 times (God being combined with “d–n” once). Someone displays a crude hand gesture.
People drink whiskey and wine repeatedly. Lucy and Nick regularly toss back a whiskey or other hard liquor. Celebrants at a friend’s birthday party all get visibly drunk, slurring their speech and staggering around.
A surprised individual wonders if she’s been given acid. A woman talks of a boyfriend who was always high on weed.
Someone glumly suggests that in all relationships “everyone either leaves, disappoints or dies.” Nick references a family member who was a secret bookie. Lucy feels betrayed at one point because Nick hasn’t revealed an important piece of information to her.
Writer/director Natalie Krinsky tries really hard to make this formulaic break-up film into something fresh, something that a Gen Y or Gen Z crowd might embrace. She packs the film with all the quick-talking quips and hip-nerd liberal zingers that she can possibly cram into108 minutes of screen time. And movie leads Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery keep their precocious New York rom-com antics tuned to brisk.
In spite of all that, though, this pic’s cute gallery-for-exes idea comes off a bit too scripted and forced. There’s nothing organically warm and fuzzy to snuggled up to here.
“Pain, my dear, is inevitable,” one character says late in the film. “It’s what you do with it that matters.” And that’s a true statement with cathartic possibilities at its core. But given how often the characters here jump in and out of bed with anyone who wanders by, it’s no wonder they’re miserable. Add in heavy boozing, crude gags and rough-edged dialogue and you’ve got a film that makes romance seem like a … tedious chore.
This lighthearted romcom, executive produced by actress and singer Selena Gomez, may be intended as a comic tonic for heartbreak. But it’ll likely leave discerning families with an unpleasant case of heartburn.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.