More life needed to be pumped into ‘2 Hearts’

Rick's Reviews

“2 Hearts” is one of the movies that can be seen now that local theaters are open. (Photo courtesy of Silver Lion Films)

(KGET) — The final act of “2 Hearts,” a film based on the true story of Chris Gregory, is heartbreaking while at the same time showing how joy can come out of tragedy. This tale of a gift that ripples through multiple lives is a very positive message.

It would have been more powerful if the acts leading up to the finale weren’t a combination of cloying romance and a story so weak embellishments were needed to get to film status. The big problem with “2 Hearts” (other than a name that misses the mark) is that despite being based on a true story, screenwriters Veronica Hool and Robin U. Russin have overpowered the film with too much fiction.

At the heart of “2 Hearts” is Chris Gregory (played by Australian actor Jacob Elordi), a happy-go-lucky teen who is leading an average life with average parents, average friends and an average girlfriend (Tiera Skovbye). His is not the kind of life that lends itself to a feature film story.

There is a slightly parallel story (the storylines unfold in different time periods) where Cuban exile Jorge Bicardi (Adan Canto) and his true love, Leslie (Radha Mitchell), meet, fall in love and marry. Bicardi’s story is more interesting because he has spent his life dealing with a lung disease that should have taken his life when he was a young man.

Director Lance Hool stumbles through the first act trying to set up how these two stories are on a collision course. A vagueness in the timeline plus some odd jumps create more confusion than comparisons. It takes time before both stories fall into place.

This is where the big problem occurs. For the final act to have a major impact, the moviegoers who are finally getting back to theaters after the long lockdown, must be invested in Gregory without hesitation.

Skip this paragraph to avoid a spoiler. The screenwriters were so desperate to create the needed emotional bond that they fabricate a large part of Gregory’s life. It is a massive cheat in production based on a true story to resort to “what if” writing.

But, without it, Gregory is just an average guy whose life eventually takes on a huge meaning. What he does is the kind of act anyone can do (and should). That doesn’t mean a movie should be made about all the people who follow Gregory’s lead.

Even the Bicardi story feels false. The assistance he gets from Gregory doesn’t come across as an act of good fortune. The age of the character and his wealth makes Gregory’s gift look more like the kind of perks the rich and famous get rather than by those who are in more need.

The only way “2 Hearts” could have worked from start to finish was if the two love stories were so rich and textured that they were believable. Both the writing and Hool’s direction lean more toward the kind of superficial touch that one would expect from a Hallmark movie. Both couples just hit predetermined emotional markers trying to hold the viewer’s attention until the touching finale.

The cast is likable especially Canto who was one of the major strengths of the TV series “Designated Survivor.” He does sell the idea of how madly in love he is in with Leslie. But that is just one part of four romantic pieces and the rest don’t fit together as well.

“2 Hearts” is a film short trying to pass itself off as a feature. It doesn’t have strong enough characters, an interesting enough storyline or is shot in a way to elevate it. Although there are a few religious moments, the movie doesn’t embrace a strong enough spiritual message to even classify it as a solid faith-based production.

The film ends up being nothing more than a lightweight tale of romance that will jerk the tears out of you in the final moments.

Grade 1 ½ stars

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language

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