Language of a Broken Heart: SXSW Review

Language of a Broken Heart - P - 2013
This indie rom-com proves that it's not just Hollywood that traffics in clichés.  

A best-selling author on love deals with tangled affairs of the heart in this clichéd indie romantic comedy.

It would be easier to sympathize with Nick (Juddy Talt), the unlucky central character of Language of a Broken Heart, if he wasn’t so damn handsome…and tall…and successful. A best-selling writer—on the subject of love, no less--who is constantly being left by women, Nick’s problem is apparently that he’s too sensitive and too eager for commitment. Yeah, women run away screaming from guys like that.

But that’s exactly what they seem to do in this film directed by Rocky Powell and written by its star. The story begins with Nick being cheated on by his beautiful British fiancée Violet (Lara Pulver), which sends him into a tailspin of depression. He seeks advice from his therapist Adam (Oscar Nunez of The Office, delivering a funny turn), only to discover that, like most therapists, Adam is more screwed up than he is.

So he returns to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, staying with his wacky mother Mimi (Julie White), on whom he constantly seems to walk in when she’s naked. The fact that she seems utterly delighted whenever this happens is an example of the film’s forced quirky humor.

When he accidentally switches luggage with a girl at the airport—no plot cliché there—he meets the free-spirited Emma (Kate French), an antiquarian bookstore owner whose stunning beauty is supposed to be obscured, in true rom-com fashion, by the oversize glasses she wears. Oh, and she’s a pool shark to boot.

Will Nick get over his broken heart and embrace the adoring Emma’s unsubtle overtures? Will his ex-fiancée show up in Illinois in an effort to win him back?  Will he make the right choice between the two women?

It’s hard to really care, since the morose, self-pitying Nick, with his non-existent problems, is not a character audiences are likely to embrace. And despite some fine efforts by the supporting cast—besides the luminous French and the endearing White, there’s also a sensitive turn by Ethan Cohn as Nick’s shlubby best friend—the film lacks the originality or wit to differentiate it from the countless other indie romantic comedies littering our screens.  

Opens March 8 (House Lights Media)

Production: Bridgman Rock Films

Cast: Juddy Talt, Lara Pulver, Ethan Cohn, Kate French, Julie White, Oscar Nunez

Director: Rocky Powell

Screenwriter: Juddy Talt

Producers: Rocky Powell, Juddy Talt

Executive producer: Kerry McCluggage

Director of photography: Steve Corie

Production designer: Jason Hammond

Rated R, 98 min.