Originally appeared in Cinema Sentries.
Three minutes into Chemical Hearts, you understand that the film is twisting the teenage-romance genre. It places teenage characters in dramatic situations, in which death and PTSD complicate things, while characters remain teenagers grappling with the difference between objective reality and subjective reality. To call Chemical Hearts pretentious would be untrue, but it could have easily fallen into the trap of flatulent intelligence in the pretext of depth. That doesn’t happen, thanks to the way these characters are set-up; sophisticated yet utterly simple. For instance, when Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) explains her understanding of life and death – drawing an analogy between life and chemistry – to Henry Page (Austin Abrams), the latter’s response is “Are you suicidal?”.
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