Stuff is a funny thing.
I imagine the majority of us can sit down on any given day, look around and ask, “how did I get all this stuff?” I mean, at least that happens to me actually multiple times a day. I have antique heirlooms, random pieces of clay “art” that I have accumulated from each child during their pre-school and kindergarten years, more books than I will ever actually read, and notebooks…oh, how many notebooks I have.
But when I look at these items, whether in passing or in moments of contemplation, those items take me somewhere. They take me to my grandmother’s house and I remember exactly where it sat on the day we came back from her funeral 17 years ago this past August. They take me to the tiny, chubby hands presenting me with a painted “bowl” or “jewelry holder,” with the biggest grins of pride and accomplishment and tears begin to form. They transport me to my rough teenage and college years, or the early months of marriage, when I was figuring out just who I was and wanted to be. It’s stuff, yes, but that stuff comes with a message – of the past, of the present, of love, of heartbreak.
As such, I immediately connected with The Broken Hearts Gallery from Writer/Director Natalie Krinsky with Selena Gomez as an Executive Producer. Art curator Lucy (played by my new favorite comedic actress, Geraldine Viswanathan) collects mementos from all of her past relationships. Whether they are shoe strings, earbud cases, or ties, Natalie has these items meticulously placed throughout her room, much to the chagrin of best friends and roommates Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo, yes, of Hamilton). Despite their attempts to coax her out of her hoarder habit, Lucy is adamant that these items don’t just remind her of past loves, they hold memory of the good moments as well. On the heels of her most recent break-up mixed with a case of mistaken identity, Lucy stumbles into the path of Nick (Dacre Montgomery, aka “Billy” from Stranger Things). Their conversation on break-ups and stuff leads to Lucy’s inspiration for the Broken Hearts Gallery, which quickly becomes a social media sensation as people bring their mementos into Lucy’s care and later, on display.
I basically loved every minute of this movie. The script was delightfully witty and insightful, the chemistry between all the actors was electric. Viswanathan’s delivery and embodiment of Lucy had me wishing she was my new best friend, and Montgomery’s subtle charm had me smitten.
Lucy’s heartfelt journey from collecting to freedom was authentic and moving, especially when she described heartbreak as “the great equalizer.” Pain and loss are universal. And while we all cope in unique ways, often we hold onto the physical mementos in an effort to hold onto the good memories before they fade away.
But, even in our brokenness, we stitch pieces of ourselves back together. Sometimes it is through cleaning out the stuff. Sometimes it’s having a hard conversation with someone from our past. Sometimes it is opening ourselves up to a new kind of love, whether it be with another person or a new understanding and appreciation for our own self. No matter the how, The Broken Hearts Gallery does a phenomenal job of illustrating the why. And this is why it has earned a spot in my “must watch” collection.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is available in theatres and on demand now.