Title: Language of a Broken Heart
Director: Rocky Powell
Starring: Juddy Talt, Lara Pulver, Kate French, Julie White, Ethan Cohn, Oscar Nuñez
“Language of a Broken Heart” is exactly the movie that one expects it to be — a frustrating quality for some, perhaps, but smooth medicine for those who trust and like writer-actors’ puppy dog tales that unfold loosely in the vein of the work of Edward Burns. An earnest, uncomplicated and funny-around-the-edges little romantic comedy about a guy on the rebound but still stuck in psychological orbit of his ex, multi-hyphenate Juddy Talt’s movie works best as a showcase for his talents.
The story is paper thin, even by genre standards. Nick (Talt) is a best-selling author who can write eloquently about feelings and love, but can’t ever seem to find a woman that doesn’t cheat on him. (There’s some truth-in-therapy insights about his romantic picker to be tilled, but this isn’t that movie.) When his fiancée Violet (Lara Pulver) suggests a break after a dalliance with another man, Nick leaves New York City and heads home to reconnect with family and friends, including best pal Cubbie (Ethan Cohn) and his mom Mimi (Julie White). A luggage screw-up leads him to meet free spirit Emma (Kate French), who wears berets, shoots a mean game of pool and pushes Nick out of his comfort zone.
Emma is of course a total cinematic fantasy construct — the perfectly made-up girl with beaming white teeth and “dorky hip” glasses who, you know, also manages an unopened antiquarian bookstore she recently inherited from her grandmother. She’s fun-loving and “spontaneous,” and uses words like scallywag. And Nick, as written, isn’t necessarily much better developed; he’s kind of clueless, and a doormat, which doesn’t track with his professional success.
Still, just when one might be ready to punch themselves in the head over the preciousness of said logline and description, it’s a pleasure to report that “Language of a Broken Heart” wins out — at least on the margins, for those predisposed to have an interest in laid-track rom-coms — by way of its way of its performances and interplay. It’s kind of nice that Talt doesn’t resort to slapstick-y hijinks or gross-out humor; his screenplay, however functional the characterizations, is at least rooted in the interactions and recognizably human frustrations of those characters. Oscar Nuñez, of “The Office,” contributes a funny supporting performance as Nick’s therapist, who’s undergoing his own divorce, and there are some smart little well-observed barbs, too, as when Cubbie, in only the manner a best friend can, takes the piss out of Nick by saying, “I read somewhere that depressions effects losers the most — that’s just science.”
Talt, who sort of recalls Owen Wilson by way of Chris Evans, is an appealing peg on which to hang “Language of a Broken Heart,” even if it is a well-worn jacket. And French, late of “The L Word,” is beautiful and appropriately, engagingly flirty. Apart from a nice time-lapse bit in Times Square, director Rocky Powell delivers a fairly straightforward and blandly shot interpretation of the script. There’s never a real suspension of disbelief here — one always knows they’re watching a movie. But it’s a popular track for a reason, so rom-com fans with an indie appreciation might enjoy just saying, “Play it again, Sam.”
NOTE: For the movie’s trailer and more information, visit its eponymous website.
Written by: Brent Simon