“Chemical Hearts” captures the agony of being young

By Angie Baldelomar

Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart in a scene of “Chemical Hearts.”

A character in the romantic drama “Chemical Hearts” describes being young as “painful.”

That pain is the driving force of this film — directed by Richard Tanne and adapted from Krystal Sutherland’s young adult novel “Our Chemical Hearts” — particularly in the imperfect romance at the center of the story. The premise is simple: Aspiring writer Henry Page (Austin Abrams) thinks of himself as a romantic, though he has never been in love. On his first day of senior year, he meets transfer student Grace Town (Lili Reinhart of the TV series “Riverdale”). But as they get closer, Henry discovers Grace is hiding something. That secret — and how to deal with it — will present Henry with tough choices and teach him that maybe love is not as easy as he had imagined.

Perhaps the movie’s strongest choice, however, is admitting that teenage love — and any other emotion, for that matter — always feels bigger than it is at that age. “It’s almost too much to feel,” says Grace, at some point and it’s true. There is an agony to being young. And that feeling is almost universal at that age.

But as “Chemical Hearts,” which premiered Aug. 21 on Amazon Video, discusses this agony, it also subtly highlights that, ultimately, friendship is what helps people survive this “limbo” between childhood and adulthood; that even in the darkest times, friends is what helps us survive into adulthood. It’s a surprisingly hopeful ending for these trying times.

*Find original review here.