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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Heartbreak Hotel

Plot Overview

three friendsWhen gallery assistant Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan) is fired and dumped by her boy­friend/boss Max Vora (Utkarsh Ambudkar,) her bff Amanda (Molly Gordon) & Nadine (Phillipa Soo) take her out on the town to com­mi­ser­ate. Being three sheets to the wind she gets into the wrong (Uber) car by mistake, but the befuddled driver Nick (Dacre Mont­gomery) drives her home any­way. They some­how pick up again while sober and we learn that Nick is using some inheritance money to refurbish an old YMCA building. Lucy has collected so much memora­bilia from past relation­­ships that she can't get rid of it all. She's carrying this sack of trash with her and at Nick's suggestion hangs a memento on the wall.

PackingThe next day somebody else's memento has mysteriously appeared beside hers. A social media invite soon has it trending, and the donations help the finances. She and Nick become partners and friends. Will Nick get his needed loan to keep The Broken Hearts Gallery afloat? Will Nick and Lucy become more than friends, or taking a chance will their budding relation­ship flame out like all the rest?


This movie is replete with relationships coming and going, with the idea of marriage tendered: past, present and future. If that's not confusing enough, the very concept of marriage is so fungible these days that it might take on different meanings in different contexts. Voilà! The three tight girl­friends here embody three aspects of it to help us sort it out: domestic, secular, and religious.

Lucy was hoping to progress to being “exclusive” with Max. Max had a past breakup leaving him so crest­fallen his friends contemplated sitting shiva with him to lament his loss. When he broke up with Lucy, she kept his yarmulke as a souvenir. His Jewishness is no further explored but it does establish a religious dimension to any forth­coming marriage with him.

Lucy shows herself an independent spirit. She picked up a private ride home who wasn't part of Uber. She reprises the loss of her mother by informally adopting a new mother Cheryl (Sheila McCarthy) at an old folks home who has to be reminded that Lucy's her daughter now. And she removes the thimble piece from a Monopoly set for her personal use. She's willing to go out­side of official channels. In the old days couples used to get ceremonially wedded, apart from the agency of the state, by declaring acceptance of each other as spouse before the village and its elders, with some chieftain officiating. Some­times and in some places it's still done that way, and the community and their religion is acceptive of it though it have no legal status per se. We could picture Lucy doing that.

In Green v. Utah a Mormon polygamist was found guilty of “misusing the marital label” when he talked about his “spiritual wives.” The state has reserved the marital label for only those unions so licensed. However religiously valid such unions be, the adventure­some couples are going to have to get creative with terminology if they want to stay within the law. For the purposes of this review, I'm using the Catholic phrase “domestic church” which they apply to holy matrimony.

For a proper definition of marriage, I'll quote Dr. Ide: “The Con­tem­por­ary Christian stan­dard was defined not by the bible but gen­er­ated by Roman law as defined by the jurist Modes­tinus who argued that marriage was ‘consortium omnis vitae, divini et humani iuris communi­catio: a life-long part­ner­ship, and a sharing of civil and religious rights’” (83–5). The religious rights occur in the context of what we'll call the domestic church.

Lucy's friend Amanda has hopes of getting married, but she's a lesbian who'd want to marry a woman. Marriage would mean some­thing different to her as it wouldn't fit into a religious frame­work for reasons not the least of which is Jesus defining marriage as hetero­sexual, (Matt. 19:4-5) “that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.” According to cultural historian David Hackett Fischer, the Puritans had “a cultural idea of marriage that was unique to the Puritan colonies. … The Puritans of New England rejected all the Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious but a civil contract” (77). In the New England states—& NY & DC—the civil contract was the whole kit and caboodle, so once laws against sodomy were removed it was a simple matter of equal rights to open (civil) marriage to homo­sexuals. The rest of the states did not abide such a redefinition, but the courts stepped in to force acceptance of same-sex marriage. What used to be called a domestic partner­ship is now called marriage, but that's all it was anyway after the Mormons motivated the court to restrict the definition of marriage to the civil sphere.

Regardless, a marriage by its very nature involves being witnessed, as it's a pubic accounting of change of status. The three girl­friends in this movie have each other and lots of other friends, so this is not a problem for them. It takes but two witnesses to establish some­thing, viz McCabe: “Prinny married Mrs. Fitz at her home near Marble Arch, London, in December, 1785, in the presence of two witnesses” (75).

But for the sake of argument, say a hetero couple decides to wed at a court­house in a civil ceremony. There's a scene from the British film, “Lazybones” (1935) where a couple eloping neglects to bring with them a needed wit­ness, so they implore a gentle­man they grab off the street to act as one. He at first refuses but then figures the couple can always get divorced, so why not? Because of the necessity of preserving separation of church and state, a state institution performing a wedding ceremony cannot use any of its employees—clerk, cleaners, secretary, whom­ever—to act as a needed witness or else it would all fall to merely a state institution with­out the religious dimension. The officers of the court are verboten as witnesses so as not to violate the establishment clause in the Constitution. If, how­ever, the court bent the rules and used one or two of its staff as needed witnesses, the couple would still be married as a domestic partnership, but not as a domestic church. The state is not allowed to establish one.

The word matrimony comes from a Latin root mater meaning mother, and monium meaning state of; matrimony being the state in which it is permitted (in Catholicism) for a woman to enter mother­hood. Since a homo­sexual couple cannot produce a baby, strictly speaking the word cannot apply to them. Here by contrast Nick's friend Marcos (Arturo Castro) has a wife Willhemina (Nikki Duval) who grows more pregnant by the day.

The third girlfriend Nadine would fill the domestic slot. Feminists complain about having to do unpaid domestic chores and tell us they them­selves could use a wife, meaning a domestic. Biographer Roland H. Bainton tells us the view of Martin Luther the Protestant reformer, that a wife “is to confine her­self to her sphere. If Luther did not say that children, church, and kitchen are the province of women, he did say that women have been created with large hips in order that they should stay home and sit on them” (233). The state divvying up duties in a divorce does not assign visitation on the ex-wife to come clean the guy's house once a week. Never­the­less, this is woman's work by unspoken tradition. Two of the girls ask why Jeff (Nathan Dales) their silent room­mate of six years doesn't propose to Nadine. She'd make an easy transition into being his domestic.

It used to be what these three girlfriends represent was all lumped together in a unified concept of marriage. Here we see it spread out. But this occurs all under the hood, as it were. The movie itself seems to present a companionate marriage in all cases, a disruption of companion­ship causing hurt and distress regard­less, and society changing to ameliorate its effects in all cases.

Production Values

” (2020) was written and directed by Natalie Krinsky. It stars Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Mont­gomery, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Indian-Australian lead actress Viswanathan was very expressive and an easy read as Lucy unlucky at love. Her pairing together with Montgomery didn't generate much chemistry beyond their initial friend­ship. Their sex scene was a non-event. All of the other characters were well acted and integral to the Movie.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for sexual content through­out and some crude references, strong language and drug references. The musical back­ground was mostly tepid. Cinema­tog­rapher Alar Kivilo had a field day with rom-com closeups and amusing visual back­ground gags. The coloring was explosive. the pacing energetic, the banter smart, and the plot preposterous. It was set in New York City.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was almost a great picture; it had potential. In a world shaped by courts, Jews, Mormons, nature, friend­ship, Catholics, Protestants, Puritans, tradition, biology, and political correctness—all trying to ease a body's suffering—one might think breakups were not painful and romance a walk in the park. Surprise! One might wish to shorten the title to Broken Heart Gall. But it was sweet. A chick flick all the way.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Nash­ville: Abingdon Press, 1955. Print.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print, Web.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

McCabe, Charles. Tall Girls Are Grateful. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1973. Print.