2 Hearts is an extraordinarily frustrating romantic drama about the Undying Power of Love, the existential pull of fate and coincidence and the comparatively banal, roulette-like nature of an organ transplant list. In case that doesn’t reveal the purpose of the movie’s title, yes, it’s partly literal, in that two men have mysterious illnesses and an equally mysterious connection, at least according to the screenplay by Robin U. Russin and Veronica Hool. Anyone paying close attention so far has probably figured out what that connection is, but the manipulative playfulness of hiding that fact for an improbably long time turns out to be one of the least problematic elements of director Lance Hool’s movie, which refuses to play fair with the audience.

The story is a true one, likely in the way that such stories are true only to the extent of providing easy drama to jerk the tears from viewers’ ducts. The plot revolves around the medical misadventures of Christopher Gregory and Jorge Bolivar, respectively played by Jacob Elordi and Adan Canto. Christopher suffers from a mysterious illness that is not satisfactorily diagnosed until it’s really too late to do anything about it. Jorge, the intended heir of a massive liquor franchise, has had a bad heart since his youth. Each of them has parents (Tahmoh Penikett and Kari Matchett as Christopher’s parents Eric and Grace and Steve Bacic as Jorge’s mogul father Jose) overly protective of their health and lifestyle.

The main thrust, however, is the romance that each shares with a blandly charming white woman. For Christopher, it’s pretty classmate Sam (Tiera Skovbye), who lost her only remaining parent in a car accident just a few years ago and otherwise has no distinguishing characteristics or history or motivation (Skovbye, who seems to understand this, is adequate at best in response). For Jorge, it’s pretty flight attendant Leslie (Radha Mitchell), whom he meets on one of several connecting flights in and out of Cuba. The screenwriters don’t give Leslie any characteristics beyond an inescapable attraction to the classically handsome Jorge (Canto, as bland as he is, at least looks the part of the classically handsome romantic foil).

If two of these performances barely try to elevate anything, at least Mitchell is likable and introduces something of a personality to a character who clearly had none on the page. Grading on a curve, the actress is pretty solid here. The problem is Elordi, whose line readings are wooden at best and embarrassing at worst. Christopher is played as both endlessly charming and something of a klutz, but with his square-jawed stoicism, Elordi cannot sell the awkwardness of the comic pratfalls (of which there are a surprising number) or the intended pathos of the sincere drama. He also narrates the events of the movie – a curious and fatal decision for something based on reality, especially with this outcome – with none of the charisma of the character we see.

The wider problem of 2 Hearts rests squarely with the screenplay, which doesn’t only hide the medical procedure that will ultimately tie these men together. That would be enough of a problem, but worse, Russin and Hool tell outright lies, treating us to a life well-lived before the film reverses course to tell us what really happened. It’s pretty unforgivable, coming across as a cruel joke instead of a primer for the film’s would-be moving coda that, by the way, finally acknowledges the other people affected by the central decision and features a touching embrace between strangers. By then it’s far too late for these hearts (in the audience) to be mended.

An extraordinarily frustrating romantic drama about the Undying Power of Love.
30 %
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