Chemical Hearts (Drama, Romance) (2020)
Director: Richard Tanne
Writers: Richard Tanne (Screenplay) Krystal Sutherland (Based on book by)
Starring: Lili Reinhart, Austin Abrams, Kara Young, Bruce Altman
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Teenager Henry (Austin Abrams) has never experienced true love, romantically-minded he is waiting for that one special individual to change everything for him. Starting his senior year in high school, he's enraptured by a peculiar and off-standish student called Grace (Lili Reinhart). Shortly after the beginning of the school year they both get picked to become editors for the school newspaper, while Grace is seemingly disinterested it does lead them together in a budding relationship yet what Henry doesn't know is her troubled past and the heart-breaking secrets she holds close to her chest.
Chemical Hearts is a standard teenage romance movie at first glance, despite its various hints leading to something more unique than just the mediocre. Featuring many ups and downs as Henry slowly starts discovering Grace's past's heartbreak, which is done in what could be described as the creepiest and most obsessive of ways possible—littered with metaphors referring to the content within, such as Henry enjoying Kintsugi, which is the art of breaking vases and gluing them back together. Chemical Hearts tries to set itself apart with this expression, a sombre imperfect love story trying to shine a light on the hardships of being a teen. Grace's tortured soul is at the forefront established as the personification of the message the writer tried to convey. Focused on this yin yang relationship between Henry and Grace, other friends that are introduced are lacking time to shine. Some attention goes to Lola (Kara Young) who is trying to get back with her ex Cora (Coral Peña), both are also in the editorial team, their relationship gets some attention midway through but ends up falling by the wayside due to the strict focus on Grace and Henry. Yet Lola and Cora get off easy as the Ed Sheeran looking classmate Muz (C.J. Hoff) barely gets featured with less than a handful of lines.
The message throughout the film, despite being a bit shallow and overly abundant is still well-executed, And I did like the fact that nothing seems perfect, there's obviously more going on with Grace's injury and what could very well be PTSD. Chemical Hearts is a showcase of dating in your teens, highly awkward and somewhat innocent on either side, it twists and turns as the couple goes through many stumbling arguments. There aren't many teenage relationships that hold strong past school, and this one is unsure throughout it’s running time, forming an interesting narrative that is both engaging and tearing at the heartstrings. The themes of trauma in young people, suicide, depression, and anxiety all take up their spots in the film just as they would in teenagers' fickle minds, experience ages people, and I thought that message was told excellently in Chemical Hearts.
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What is love apart from the chemical reaction in our brains.