I am really jazzed about the talents on display in "The Broken Hearts Gallery."
You could argue it's a standard romcom that too scrupulously follows the rules of the genre, or that it's stronger on the "com" than the "rom," both of which are true. But the speedy wit in Natalie Krinsky's script hits you from the first moments, announcing a voice with the zippy specificity of Amy Heckerling ("Clueless") or Gillian Robespierre ("Obvious Child"). And the movie is jam-packed with interesting faces, most of them Black or brown, that anyone who watches movies and TV will have seen but not in roles this interesting or prominent.
That starts with Geraldine Viswanathan, who was amusing as a teenager attempting to elude parental monitoring in the underrated "Blockers" but is hilarious in "The Broken Hearts Gallery" as Lucy, a Brooklynite who has collected enough keepsakes from failed romances to turn them into the titular art venue (Croatia has such a place, called the Museum of Broken Relationships). Viswanathan is quippy and fast enough to do stand-up but intuitive enough to make us feel for Lucy's confusion about why it's so hard for her to find The One. She reminded me how intolerable Emilia Clarke was in last year's "Last Christmas"; both play heroines meant to be charming despite problematic behavior, but Clarke couldn't make us like her character and Viswanathan can.
The cliché is that acting is like tennis: Playing against someone good makes you better. But a better analogy for "Gallery" would be water polo, because Viswanathan is surrounded by smart, funny actors who buoy each other.
Phillipa Soo, whom Disney+ subscribers will recognize as the original Eliza in "Hamilton," veers from that character's calm as a manic roommate whose abundant advice is unhelpful because she's always the one who does the breaking up. Ego Nwodim, who never has enough to do on "Saturday Night Live," clicks as a pal who's not as together as she pretends. And Molly Gordon, who had a memorable bit in "Booksmart," is witheringly funny as another pal whose confidence in her own brilliance has led her into a relationship with someone who literally never speaks, a gimmick that probably shouldn't work but does.
I have not mentioned any men and there's a reason for that: Krinsky doesn't care about them. As Nick, Lucy's gallery partner and possible romantic partner, Dacre Montgomery ("Stranger Things") is so dull that you wish he'd dump her, which is not what the movie intends. In general, "Gallery" has so much interesting stuff in its nonromantic scenes that I hoped Krinsky would steer the movie toward insisting that smart, creative Lucy would be just fine without a generic dude in her life.
In a way, though, it's perfect that "The Broken Hearts Gallery" isn't as up-to-the-minute or confident as the people who made it — people who do well here but seem destined to do even cooler, fresher stuff very soon.
Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367
The Broken Hearts Gallery
⋆⋆⋆ out of 4 stars
Rating: PG-13, language and sex talk. • Theater: Wide release.