3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Richard Tanne
Writer: Richard Tanne, Krystal Sutherland (novel)
Starring: Lili Reinhart, Austin Abrams, Sarah Jones
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: R for language, sexuality and teen drug use
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: All Henry Page wanted from his senior year of high school was to be the editor of the student newspaper. Then he met Grace, a transfer student with a past made of secrets.
Review: There is a weight to “Chemical Hearts” that elevates the film above the by-the-numbers teenage dramas that have piled up, gathered dust and faded into the woodwork of coming-of-age cinema. It’s somewhat exaggerated in that Hollywood sort of way, but some of us live lives that are filled with unbelievable coincidences.
Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) is damaged both in the physical and emotional sense. She limps her way into a post-tragedy life, clinging to the things that she’d be better off letting go. You could shrug it off as something that teenagers just do, but the truth is most of us burden ourselves with things that we cannot change. We look back when we should look forward.
Henry Page (Austin Abrams) is Grace’s foil. He’s innocent and unhindered by his past. He’s as well-adjusted as any normal teenager can be. He’s on the rise; Grace has bottomed out. That’s where they meet. Two bodies moving in different, if not opposite, directions. Star crossed, but not in the Shakespearean sense.
I didn’t connect with the story as much as I did with the mood and emotion of it. It's more than a little contrived. I would have dialed that back to keep the material from straying into melodrama. Being a teen feels like non-stop dramatics, but "Chemical Hearts" piles on Grace a little too much.
Good performances, solid direction, a decent script and a haunting soundtrack. There’s a lot to like and I suspect enough for a teen audience to love.
The film is R-rated, but that’s for the scattered use of a particular four-letter word. It feels more attuned to a PG-13, but I don’t make the rules.