Based on the best-selling young adult novel by Krystal Sutherland, Chemical Hearts tells a love story that tackles mental illness, high school romance, and the pain of loss and grief. Starring Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart and Paper Town’s Austin Abrams, Chemical Hearts diverges from the mundane and delves in the more complex components of love, both the joyful and the heart-breaking. 

Henry Page is in love with Grace Town. After Grace joins the newspaper as a co-editor with Henry, he knows he needs to understand the mysterious girl who wears oversized clothes and uses a cane. But as he falls in love with the new girl, he begins to unravel dark secrets about Grace, getting to see the beauty beyond her facade but also the lingering pain from her past. As the two form a friendship, and possibly more, Henry and Grace learn what it means to love deeply, accept a person for who they are, and experience the beauty that remains amidst the pain of the world. Both touching and devastatingly honest, Chemical Hearts tells a story that is all too real, a bit painful, and ultimately hopeful. 

Chemical Hearts certainly won’t be for everyone. For those in search of a light-hearted, Kissing Booth-esque film, I recommend you look elsewhere. This book-based drama has its funny moments, but it focuses on the inevitable pain of love and loss rather than prom and other more typical teen movie subjects. While I enjoyed the movie and thought it was very well-written and authentic, it’s a bit of an acquired taste, in my opinion. For fans of All the Bright Places, The Spectacular Now, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this movie will not disappoint and is sure to be one of the best tear-jerkers to hit the small screen in some time. But be warned, there are no swoony ends or charming conclusions with this movie, which makes it so much more realistic and memorable as well as a bit more depressing than most teen movies. 

Henry wants to be loved, and he knows Grace is the one for him. He can overlook her flaws and her moods and even her attachment to the past, but when she becomes more and more distant, his idealistic views on love and life become less and less attainable. Both moving and dismal, Chemical Hearts gives a refreshing, realistic look into teen relationships, unflinching in its portrayal of loss, sex, and first love.

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