Starring: Lili Reinhart, Austin Abrams, Sarah Jones
Director: Richard Tanne
Running Time: 96 mins
Chemical Hearts is an American film about a teenage boy who, lamenting his unremarkable life, has his world turned upside down by the arrival at his school of a girl with a complex past.
Teen romances often don’t get the credit for the intense, heart-wrenching emotion they can provide. However, there’s more often than not a lot more complexity in a story of young love than at first meets the eye. Unfortunately, Chemical Hearts doesn’t quite manage to deliver on that, proving a slightly underwhelming take on a fairly serious story of teen romance.
It’s all too easy to say that these kinds of stories don’t need to be so serious. After all, love at such a young age can’t be that complicated, and doesn’t come with all the additional trappings of adulthood, right? Of course, anybody who remembers being in love as a teenager knows that isn’t the case, and the biggest positive of Chemical Hearts is that it pays heed to that very fact.
Putting strong dramatic emphasis on the emotions of its two characters, the film is a deeply intimate portrayal of the devastating power of love as a teenager, how it can completely consume your life in a way that can have immeasurable consequences.
This isn’t a tale of blissful young love, but a real-world story of romance where things aren’t all rosy. And that’s where Chemical Hearts really knows what it’s talking about, as it delves deeper and deeper into a love story that’s tinged with immense complexity.
As we see young Henry (played by Austin Abrams) come out of his shell and discover the true power of love, he also becomes aware of the struggles that the object of his affections, Grace (played by Lili Reinhart), has been through.
That’s where the film’s most intense emotional power should be set to enter the fray, as we look both at Henry’s developing emotions and Grace’s own inner turmoil. However, the film unfortunately doesn’t pay enough attention to Grace’s side of the story, leaning a little too heavily on Henry’s perspective.
As a result, Chemical Hearts isn’t quite able to tap into its story’s most heart-wrenching potential, proving an undeniably touching film that otherwise doesn’t live up to its fullest potential, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2 overall.