The chance to see Geraldine Viswanathan in three new projects makes it a great season for her. “Who?” you might ask. The actress defies old-fashioned movie star traits, yet she headlines the theatrical release of The Broken Hearts Gallery and boasts the title role in Hala, a film streaming on Apple Plus. Throw in a key part for HBO’s Bad Education with an Emmy-nominated Hugh Jackman, and Viswanathan not only runs a pace worthy of any certified star, but she also shines in all her works.
In theaters, The Broken Hearts Gallery lets the mid-twenties actress from Australia graduate beyond roles as a high school student, though comedy requires that her so-called adult maintains some juvenile traits. With charisma and expressive eyes, Viswanathan once again displays spot-on timing, in this case, as part of a cleverly concocted comedy about a young woman who needs to let go of her life’s past clutter.
This life comes from writer-director Natalie Krinksy’s behavior as someone who likes to keep mementos, not just family stuff, but pieces of various broken romantic relationships. Krinksy’s experience writing for the Gossip Girl series helped her develop impressive New York sensibilities, and she peppers her film with theatrical faces like Tony winner Bernadette Peters or Phillipa Soo of Broadway’s Hamilton. Though letting Canadian locations stand in for some New York City shots, the director spices scenes with classic Brooklyn sites and its fabulous views of Manhattan.
Referencing Jane Austen, Krinsky keeps her ear open for youthful patter and pop references that would certainly shock the literary ancestor to all romantic comedies, aka rom-coms. As with Austen, surprises remain minimal — we all know who needs to partner up despite their contrived skirmishes. Explicit dialogue plus a #metoo awareness adds edge to the project, which succeeds at winning, rather than breaking, hearts.
Robin Holabird is a former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office and a longtime KUNR entertainment reviewer. Catch her commentary Fridays during Fresh Air, between 2:37 and 2:47 p.m.