Geraldine Viswanathan is a 25-year-old Australian actor and comedian of Indian descent who has appeared in a handful of movie-stealing supporting roles, including Blockers and The Package. Now comes a romcom vehicle for her leading actor talents, written and directed by Natalie Krinsky (whose script credits include Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy). The Broken Hearts Gallery was supposed to be the big romcom of the summer – a little something for the ladies while their beaux piled into Tenet, possibly. Finally arriving in cinemas this weekend, it is something of a letdown: a funny but conventional glossy romcom. But there is no messing with Viswanathan, who is undoubtedly the main attraction.
She plays funny and unfiltered Lucy, an art gallery assistant who has a quirky-stroke-creepy collection of mementos from past relationships cluttering her bedroom in a Brooklyn flatshare. She is dating her boss, Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar), an art-world poser whose studious man-bun is a dead giveaway to hidden shallows. After she makes a drunken show of herself at a work event, Lucy is hit with a double-whammy of getting fired and being dumped by Max. The plot is default romcom but Krinksy’s rams her script with smart-relatable lines. “I bet she has an amazing but crazy skincare routine,” whispers Lucy in awe after meeting Max’s impressive new doctor girlfriend.
Lucy is a character with Bridget Jones, Sex and the City and Girls in her DNA, but Viswanathan brings something of her own to the role: an excitable sense of fun and fast-talking wit. You feel she has the sharpness for the lines she delivers, and her charisma goes a long way when Lucy meets bland, unthreatening Nick (Stranger Things’ Dacre Montgomery), who is opening a boutique hotel in Brooklyn. Lucy finds her niche installing a gallery in the foyer – collecting strangers’ heartbreak stories and breakup trinkets.
Viswanathan has said the only role she expected to play in a romantic comedy as a woman of colour was the best friend; this film is pure romcom fantasy but Broken Hearts Gallery is radical in one important respect: challenging the film industry’s perceptions of what a leading woman looks like.
• The Broken Hearts Gallery is in cinemas from 11 September.