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The Broken Hearts Club

Writer-director Greg Berlanti may have been trying to break the mold of gay-niche movies with this debut feature, but for all his apparent skill and affection, The Broken Hearts Club is all talk and no action. A group of gay friends comfort and criticize each other as they experience different strains of relationship strife, creating a self-perpetuating shield of depressed gayness that effectively seals them off from the external world. Although Berlanti smartly criticizes his characters for being myopically gay, it takes 80 minutes before he lets it sink in to any of them — and by then it's too late. Although their banter is sometimes witty, too often it's the same catty, queeny, divaesque homo-chatter done ad nauseum. Despite some charismatic performances, The Broken Hearts Club feels like an entire movie about those quirky gay neighbors usually relegated to supporting parts, only this time they're omnipresent and even more tiresome in numbers. It's ironic that Berlanti's characters bemoan Hollywood's gay stereotypes and yet still flame, fuss, and listen to The Carpenters. Bright and well-paced, this may seem like a fresh turn for mainstream gay audiences tired of torpid AIDS dramas and the inept stylings of "rebel" Gregg Araki, but taken strictly as a romantic comedy the results are undistinguished. John Mahoney adds some class as a wisened old gay mentor who dies when Berlanti runs out of ideas. Also with Dean Cain. Good anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Includes commentary by Berlanti and deleted scenes with commentary. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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