It's felt like an eternity since we got a romantic comedy that didn't go straight to a streaming service. Netflix is riddled with lousy ones. Palm Springs was fantastic but had a fantastical premise. A straight-down-the-middle quality rom-com feels like a rarity. Sadly The Broken Hearts Gallery isn't quite that movie. It's overlong, riddled with cliches, and brings back "Toronto trying to pass as New York City" as a setting. But it's relentlessly charming. Even with its flaws, it feels like a movie that someone poured their heart and soul into, not just filler.
Geraldine Viswanathan continues her ascent as the effervescent but emotionally stunted Lucy, who keeps mementos of all her failed relationships. A drunken outburst at a gallery opening costs her a job and a boyfriend (Utkarsh Ambudkar). Her meet-cute with Nick (Dacre Montgomery, last seen tormenting the kids on Stranger Things) happens in a very 2020 way: mistaking his car for her rideshare. He's, of course, a good guy who is heartbroken by his ex-girlfriend and has dreams of his own. Despite denying being a hipster, these dreams involve turning an old YMCA into a boutique hotel with an "authentic" bar. (That sound you heard was my eyes rolling back into my skull.)
Thus their friendship and budding romance are sealed: She'll help him design his hotel for free if he lets her use it for gallery space. Thanks to a large social media push that's never quite explained, Lucy gets all sorts of lovelorn New Yorkers to share the detritus they've kept from past romances, letting go of their items and telling their stories on camera. That last bit feels directly lifted from When Harry Met Sally; not that there's anything wrong with that.
Where the film falters is in being predictable but not tidy. At one point I turned to my wife, shocked there were still thirty minutes to go. We immediately guessed the remaining setbacks that would cause our couple to break up and reunite. But because Viswanathan and Montgomery have such chemistry, this was easily forgivable. It also helps that the film has an excellent supporting cast, including Arturo Castro as Nick's best bud, and Molly Gordon and Phillipa Soo as Lucy's roommates. The latter is especially terrific as a serial womanizer.
There's nothing particularly special about The Broken Hearts Gallery. But the comforting rom-com rhythms and its dynamite cast make it worth seeing.