‘Chemical Hearts’ is an honest teenage romance

The Prime original movie captures the complex emotions that come with being young and in love

The film will make you reminisce about being a teenager.

Last weekend, I was snuggled up on the couch scrolling through Amazon Prime, browsing for a good flick to take my mind off all the studying I was neglecting. I stumbled across the trailer for Chemical Hearts, a teen drama starring Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (Euphoria). It seemed like an easy watch I could fall asleep to, but I ended up loving it so much that the story stuck with me long after the credits.

The film revolves around high school students Grace Town and Henry Page who are chosen to be co-editors of their school newspaper.

Grace, played by Reinhart, is a new transfer student plagued with survivor’s guilt from a car crash that killed her boyfriend and left her permanently disabled. When she’s placed to work alongside Henry, played by Abrams, a relationship develops that allows both teens to come to terms with the complexity of life in high school and to copewith past traumas.

Henry, unlike Grace, is presented as a relatively unaffected high school student with a fairly normal upbringing and a stable home life. What makes their pairing compelling is the differences between them: Grace’s complex emotional state challenges Henry to empathize with her, and his loyalty to her throughout the film is admirable and encouraging.

The film is imbued with the star-crossed lovers trope. But what makes it stand out from the rest of the teen romance genre is its blatant honesty; Chemical Hearts confronts topics that aren’t usually tackled with realism in a typical teen romance filmlike loss, grief, and conflict. There are cringe-worthy moments, scenes that make your heart break, and moments that make you nostalgic for the absolute chaos that is teenagerhood.

The story has the emotional complexity reminiscent of The Fault in our Stars author John Green’s work. Each character is dynamic and unique, bringing to the screen the uncomfortable realities of being young and in love while simultaneously trying to cope with loss and grief. It’s worth the watch for anyone who enjoyed the honesty and heft of Paper Towns or Five Feet Apart.

From the powerful screenwriting to Reinhart’s raw and impressive portrayal of Grace’s agony, the film doesn’t miss when it comes to making an impact. But the film isn’t all angst and turmoil—it wraps up with a satisfying ending that gives the story closure and a sense of catharsis.

What makes Chemical Hearts an important watch is the light it casts over grief and how to support someone who’s experiencing it. The film deftly captures the overwhelming emotions of teen romance and struggle and it will have you reminiscing about the complexities of youth while admiring the power of young love.

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