Official promotional poster
|Directed by||Richard Tanne|
|Screenplay by||Richard Tanne|
|Based on||Our Chemical Hearts|
by Krystal Sutherland
|Music by||Stephen James Taylor|
|Edited by||JC Bond|
|Distributed by||Amazon Studios|
Chemical Hearts is a 2020 American romantic drama film written, produced, and directed by Richard Tanne, based on the novel Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. It stars Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart. It was released on August 21, 2020, by Amazon Studios, and received mixed to positive reviews from critics.
Teenager Henry Page considers himself a hopeless romantic but has never fallen in love. He aspires to be a writer and to be chosen as editor of his high school newspaper. The newspaper's faculty advisor disappoints him by making him share the editor position with Grace Town, a new student in his class. Grace is physically handicapped—walking with a limp and using a cane. She is also sullen and surly and initially rejects Henry's attempts to talk to her.
After missing his bus one day, Henry and Grace wind up walking home along the same route. Although estranged at first, she relents slightly and offers to drive him home once they reach her house. However, she refuses to drive and has him drive her car and leave it at his house. The next day, a mysterious middle-aged man retrieves her car without speaking to Henry.
As Grace begins to let Henry into her life, she shows him an abandoned factory with a pool containing koi fish. He falls in love with her despite her mixed signals and obvious indications that she is emotionally traumatized. He follows her one day and finds her at the grave of a man who, judging from the tombstone, died as a teenager. Upon further investigation, he learns that the dead man was killed in a car accident and that Grace had been in the car when it happened—causing her disability and leading to her changing schools.
Their romance peaks at a Halloween party, after which they have sex (and Henry loses his virginity). They have a romantic few days together, but Grace is still troubled.
On the anniversary of the car accident, Henry goes to her house and learns that she has been living in the room of her deceased boyfriend, with his mother and father (the man who had picked up her car earlier). She finds Henry there and they argue as she is clearly still in love with a dead man. Henry cannot handle this information and they break up.
One day, after being told by Dom’s Father that Grace is gone missing, Henry finds her in the koi pool, wearing what was to have been her wedding dress. He takes her back to her home.
As Henry's and Grace's senior year comes to an end, they avoid talking to one another at the school. Grace leaves the newspaper after taking some time off school. After the last issue of the newspaper is released, to which Henry has contributed a heartfelt essay about the biochemistry of teenagers, they meet in a school hallway. Their encounter is an emotional one and they hug, but then go their separate ways.
- Austin Abrams as Henry Page
- Lili Reinhart as Grace Town
- Kara Young as Lola
- Coral Peña as Cora
- C.J. Hoff as Murray
- Jordan Adelman as Student 14
- Sarah Jones as Sadie
- Adhir Kalyan as Kem Sharma
- Bruce Altman as Toby
- Catherine Curtin as Sarah
In June 2016, Awesomeness Films acquired the screen rights to Chemical Hearts. In June 2019, it was announced Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams had joined the cast of the film, with Richard Tanne directing from a screenplay he wrote. Principal photography began in June 2019 in New Jersey.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a Fresh Tomatometer rating of 62% based on 81 reviews, with an "All Critics" average rating of 5.79/10 and 63% from "Top Critics" based on 16 reviews. The site's critics consensus reads, "For better and for worse, Chemical Hearts captures the well-worn ups and downs of melodramatic teenage love - and countless other films about it." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." When Chemical Hearts premiered on Amazon Prime, it received a higher approval from audiences than critics. In her review, film critic Steph Cozza of Aggressive Comix speculated that the polarizing critical reaction was because “the general population of film critics have either forgotten what it was like to be young, or they have never suffered the melancholy of adolescence to begin with,” and that, “the film was not made for them, it was made for teenagers.”
While some critics did not agree with Cozza's positive review of the film, the majority of Rotten Tomatoes "Top Critics" did, with praise going to Tanne's direction and screenplay, and the performances of Reinhart and Abrams.
Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com described the film as "sneakily subversive," and "very unpredictable," writing that, "there's much to be said for what Tanne has pulled off in Chemical Hearts, for his gentle and measured approach. You actually feel like you have been through something by the end." She added that "Lili Reinhart is a revelation. She has such gravitas as an actress," and that, "Abrams is a thoughtful presence, and best when he's forced to deal with her unpredictable behavior. Watch his reactions. He's paying such close attention to her, trying to read her face. These two young actors make this bond make sense."
San Fransisco Chronicle's G. Allen Johnson concluded his review by asserting that "what makes Chemical Hearts so good is it’s unafraid of its feelings. It tackles complicated emotional issues such as depression, suicide, sex and love with a straightforward honesty. For once, a film about young people is completely free of snark and irony."
David Ehrlich, reviewing for IndieWire, praised Tanne's direction of the film, writing that he employed "a more patient and open-ended aesthetic than you’d expect to find in a YA adaptation; shot on a 35mm stock that can make an entire bedroom vibrate with potential, some entire scenes are captured in just a handful of static medium-wide shots that aren’t afraid to set these characters adrift in a vast sea of their own feelings." He wrote that the film "has an uncanny way of capturing the basic combustibility of teenage feelings."
- "Awesomeness Films Nabs YA Novel 'Our Chemical Hearts' (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Hermanns, Grant (June 16, 2019). "Lili Reinhart-Led Romantic Drama Chemical Hearts Enters Production". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- D’Alessandro, Anthony (May 14, 2020). "Lili Reinhart Amazon Studios' Coming-Of-Age Drama 'Chemical Hearts' Hits Prime This Summer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
- "Chemical Hearts (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- "Chemical Hearts Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Cozza, Steph (September 2, 2020). "Chemical Hearts Movie Review". Aggressive Comix.
- Chemical Hearts - Movie Reviews, retrieved 2020-09-18
- O'Malley, Sheila. "Chemical Hearts movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert". https://www.rogerebert.com/. Retrieved 2020-09-18. External link in
- August 19, G. Allen Johnson; August 22, 2020Updated:; 2020; Pm, 4:18. "Review: 'Chemical Hearts' a dramatic teen romance unafraid of its feelings". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2020-09-18.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- "Chemical Hearts Captures the Joy and Agony of Teen Romance". Time. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
- Ehrlich, David; Ehrlich, David (2020-08-20). "'Chemical Hearts' Review: Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams Shine in a YA Romance for Extra Sensitive Teens". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-09-18.