Chemical Hearts: Film Review

Chemical Hearts

I can already see it now – teenagers watching Chemical Hearts over and over again, sobbing repeatedly at the high school romance drama – but I am not a teenager and I didn’t warm to the movie much at all.

The film tells the story of Henry Page (Austin Abrams), who has never been in a relationship or in love, but all that changes on the first day of his senior year in high school when transfer student Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) is assigned to co-edit the newspaper with him. He can’t help but fall in love with her, but she is not in the right mindset to be dating as she’s still recovering – physically, emotionally, and mentally – from a tragic accident that has left her needing to use a cane to walk.

Chemical Hearts is clearly designed to be a moving tearjerker for the teen crowd and I’m usually a sucker for those and sob along fairly easily, but I never felt connected to the story or invested in the characters and I didn’t particularly want them to be together, so when it came to the dramatic, seemingly emotional moments, I didn’t feel a damn thing. And I believe the narrative didn’t manage to conjure up that emotion inside me because it didn’t earn it, it didn’t build their relationship to a place where I cared about it, and I didn’t buy all the beats in the story.

The film is told from the perspective of Henry but the far more interesting character is Grace. She has been through a lot (no spoilers) and her emotional and mental issues as a result of that would have been better ground to explore, rather than this romance. However, her secret past is kept from the audience for a long time and so I can appreciate that the mystery and intrigue about her backstory would be ruined if it was told from her point of view.

Reinhart, best known as Betty Cooper in Riverdale, is also the star of the show. She is the one you want to watch and she gets all the emotional heavy lifting, on top of having to portray a physical disability. She was perfectly capable of commanding the emotion she needed for her performance, although she almost went into melodrama territory at times. I bought her friendship with Abrams but their romantic chemistry wasn’t super convincing. Abrams, who I know best from The Walking Dead, is likeable but I struggled to understand him sometimes because boy, does he like a mumble.

Despite a great performance from Reinhart, Chemical Hearts is cliched and forgettable and didn’t make me feel any of the feels.

Available on Amazon Prime Video from Friday 21st August 

Rating: 2.5/5

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