This is basically a teenage romance story between two misfits at high school. Naturally there is some tragic history that looms in the background that provides some emotional barriers for the love affair to develop smoothly because afterall, what’s the point in having this tale told if there wasn’t going to be any turbulence along the way.
Chemical Hearts is hence, treading on familiar territory here but unfortunately fails to inject enough originality or sparkle in the story to make this stand out. Its two young leads, relative unknownd Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart, are likeable and gave decent performances but they are not given enough juice in the script to allow their characters to develop or blossom into some beyond just nice people. They are supported by an array of one dimensional characters such as the geeky best friends, the lesbian friend, the sweet but out of tuned parents, the sympathetic sibling and so on. None of these characters come across as real people and behave more like backdrop. This does not help in the overall mood and objective of the story here which attempts to tackle serious problems such as depression, suicide, and coming of age. On the plus side, the film avoids the path of exploitation with cheesy sex or a juvenile dialogue with overly used of foul language. Plus, its ending was realistic and demonstrate a maturity that most films of this nature would have steered away from.
All in all, Chemical Hearts has the heart and ambition to bring to us a simple teenage love story and sorts of succeeds at some level but disappointing at other levels. It could have in my humble opinion been a lot better with a stronger script and approach. I personally did not find myself tearing up at the sappy scenes and I suspect neither would a majority of viewers except for those who are overly sentimental. This is one way to tell whether a movie succeeded in getting you invested and hooked to its characters and story.