Amazon released its most recent young adult drama, ‘Chemical Hearts’, on the 21st of August. Starring Lili Reinhart from ‘Riverdale’ fame and Austin Abrams as its main protagonists, this movie delves deeper into the nuances of teenage life. Director Richard Tanne succeeds in becoming a neutral storyteller of teenagers without judgments. This feat is achieved by few and Tanne thrives in his space of expression. The movie also offers a beautiful soundtrack that complements its imagery of mostly drab colors. Hence, the scenery is set to make the audience’s heart ache which is described as something inherently medical and ‘chemical’.
The movie follows Grace Town (Reinhart), a teenager who is suffering from severe depression, survivor’s guilt and PTSD. To mend her broken heart, the school newspaper editor Henry Page (Abrams) enters in all his angsty glory. Henry is fascinated with the Japanese art of kintsugi. Kintsugi is an art of patching broken pottery pieces with gold paint. The idea behind this is to embrace faults and imperfections. This hobby of his is quite literally manifested in his relationship with Grace. From the minute he meets Grace walking with the help of a walking stick, he sees her as one of his pottery pieces which can be fixed. However, the movie comes as a rude awakening to both him and the viewers that not everyone can be mended with love.
Lili Reinhart as Grace is very impressive. She is pained and her pain is displayed in quiet ways. She is often frustrated but sometimes not. This creates a large disparity for anyone who tries to reach out to her. They too are forced to realize Grace is not yet ready to be emotional but that she is aware of her emotions. She is sometimes the goldfish in an abandoned building in a dirty pond but in others she is just the abandoned building.
In a scene shot in the school library, Grace explains to Henry how teenage years are the most painful years of anyone’s life. She describes this phase as a limbo which is relatable to most. Mental illness for teenagers is an unclear reality which most often is misrepresented or under-represented. ‘Chemical Hearts’ is not just about the chemistry of a heartbreak but also about the chemistry of mental illness. Trauma and guilt harbored in a young heart cause Grace to shuffle between a stage of moving on but also the intrinsic inability to do so.
The movie is based on the book ‘Our Chemical Hearts’. Written by Krystal Sutherland. The book inspired both Tanne and Reinhart to delve into this movie. The Bustle reports that Richard Tanne did not want to stray too much from the ending of the book. For viewers, the ending of the movie is bittersweet. However, it is also something genuine. Additionally, ‘Chemical Hearts’ also embodies strange friendships which eventually end up being a saving grace more than romantic relationships.
Watch the movie on Prime video to experience a love story between lovers but also to experience the chemical heartbreak of losing a loved one.