In Lucy’s words, “The key to collecting is seeing value where others usually don’t”. Lucy is a twenty-something aspiring gallerist, who decides to share the task of mending broken hearts with a space that preserves souvenirs of the brokenhearted.
The 2020 film The Broken Hearts Gallery is a story about how Lucy Gulliver, often referred to as “a hoarder”, decides to challenge the affair of heartbreak by introducing a bold memorial to objects and remainders considered on the same plight as works of art. While dealing with her own relationships, she meets Nick, who helps her to build a one-of-a-kind gallery within a hotel. The rest is, quite literally, history – since a film is a species of fabricated time.
However, this is not what we will pin attention on, but it is the word “gallery” and occasional mentions of the arts, including a fake meeting with Larry Gagosian that will carry us to the beginning of a new point of view.
Another gallery for the arts?
While an art gallery is “a room or building for the display or sale of works of art”, the present day is known for discounting dictionary help. Its characteristic is to redefine what is simply put by excavating new elements in an old linguistic monument.
Lucy’s journey throughout the film is quite similar, where she rips apart the label of a gallery assistant before diving into something unimaginable that has occupied her room for years. From abandoned ties and tickets to empty liquor bottles and an uncalled invitation to the past at first glance, she collects souvenirs from her past relationships as “memories” that are difficult to shadow with the present. Whether it is the crowd in the gallery or the image of its director, several instances in the story try to open arms to a larger participation without mocking Lucy’s dream job.
Following the steps of her mother, who is an art historian, she attempts to find art in everything, and gives her surroundings a chance to embrace her passion for it. The eventual gallery responds by replacing works of art and their conventions with objects that have an artistic significance with quick and compelling justifications.
A gallery for broken hearts!
From the opening credits, the objects in Lucy’s room are placed as historical possessions as they cross paths with a very obvious present. Her aspirations and perspectives about the world of art are audience-friendly, which is how the gallery she works for comes under experiment.
Also deemed as the “ex” memorial, the narrative goes beyond the confines of romance to romanticise how art truly moves one by letting another express. The Broken Hearts Gallery, therefore, becomes “a room or building for the display or sale of material memories from past relationships”.
While trying to answer specific questions with a range of objects, The Broken Hearts Gallery thrives on the spirit of a new generation in the arts. The objects on display become more relatable with their influence on social media and their tour from inside a garbage bag to a shelf that is closely inspected for emotional residues. The film, in itself, acts as a gallery, which believes in the strength of bottled emotions and the need to allow time and space to pass like the living and breathing.
Art lovers, are you paying attention?
When Pablo Picasso said, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary”, his thought was passed down to the next generations in various forms – in this case, a collection.
Its roles keep changing within the duration, with gifts as artefacts, video clips combined to be a guiding montage and broken pieces as decoration.
Except the subtle references and a complete description that stands true for every art enthusiast and professional, the film is packed with symbols that could have shifted the entire course of the narrative only about the purpose of art. We find that possibility in the character of Jeff, who is dating Lucy’s best friend Amanda.
Jeff, who is extremely quiet and only comes to speak towards the end of the film, reflects what could be seen as an amateur, or even experienced spectator in an art gallery. He is driven by his silent yet conscious character to keep his place full, which results in his interactions remaining minimal until he has closely observed what is happening in the lives around him. The presence of vocal female characters almost negate the male gaze, while still holding Jeff as an important part of the story. Like any other spectator, Jeff takes his own time to understand what he observes and listens to, before becoming an active participant in decoding what is before him.
Something even more intriguing is how the clips of people speaking to the camera as they describe their contributions are not only a montage or hints of what would happen in the remaining time, but also use their “leftovers” to open interpretations. Their task is almost as far as focusing on finer details while including their personal histories within a larger shell of emotions.
The picture of a bigger heart
While the film is bound to a content end, it is incomplete without the greater expectations of art and its meaning in the lives of individuals. With a mix of historical findings and the subtle appearance of the contemporary arts in neon signs and pieces of porcelain portraying balance, it leads the audience to the answer behind why art is special.
After accepting the relationship between art and human experience and emotion, the disclosures in the film blend in with ease. They take to the process of building a gallery and steps as important as its very name, the positions of objects for possible meaning-making and their information are paid close attention to. What remains equally prominent is the way in which the audiences consume them as more than just a means of detaching from heartbreak.
Towards the closing credits, the film wraps the context with the message of the individuals being greater than the object they choose to leave behind and still take inspiration from. From the beginning to the end, The Broken Hearts Gallery completes its mission to be accessible to those seeking it, and yet, distancing the entity of the arts from a story of love and learning.
While you’re up for it, here are some intriguing movie recommendations to feed the love for art in you!