Culture, Movies, Reviews

‘Riverdale’s’ Lili Reinhart tackles teen trauma in new film, ‘Chemical Hearts’

A love story about two teens, “Chemical Hearts” is anything but elementary. It is an emotionally heavy film about heartache, grief and many other themes of young adult life told from the perspective of Henry, played by Austin Abrams. Based on the 2016 novel of the same name, written by Australian author Krystal Sutherland, “Chemical Hearts” is nothing less than heart-wrenching and real.

Grace, played by “Riverdale” actress Lili Reinhart (who also acts as an executive producer), is introduced as the new girl at school but turns out to be an extremely dynamic character. After a life-altering car accident, she struggles to be the fun-loving teen she was before, becoming a girl who is now masked by boys’ clothing and a cane. She not only struggles with her extreme limp but also with her extreme emotions. Grace battles herself throughout the film, dragging Henry along (Abrams) with her for an unforgettable journey.

Nothing noteworthy had ever happened to Henry before. As the editor-in-chief of the school paper, Henry is a writer lacking a purpose, preferring to use his written words as a shield against the world. He likes to think that he is romantic and witty, but struggles to find the words in real that come so easily to him as a journalist.

Confused by Grace’s character and charm, Henry is quickly drawn into her mysterious lifestyle when she joins him in working for the paper. Grace, however, refuses to write or contribute much, adding to her enigmatic demeanor.

“Chemical Hearts” is extremely realistic. It shows that it’s okay to be vulnerable, normalizing heartbreak and other emotions integral to the human experience.

Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart in "Chemical Hearts" (2020)

Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart in "Chemical Hearts" (2020) Photo credit: imdb.com

In an interview done by “Refinery 29,” Lili Reinhart shares that most actors and actresses can cry or show extreme emotion on command. Her secret, however, for the realistic energy of her performance stems from “real trauma” she digs up from her past experiences.

“When you’re seeing me cry, I’m crying about something real. I use my own experiences when I act. Some people don’t because they say not to bring your own experiences into acting… but I always have; that’s how I get the most real emotion. I’m going to pull from my own experiences,” the actress shared in another interview, this time with “BuzzFeed.”

As such, Director Richard Tanne knew Reinhart was the perfect person to embrace the darkness and tragedy of “Chemical Hearts.”

“She’s comfortable confronting her pain and the pain of others…Lili had to have a very strong control over the direction of her emotions,” he told “Nylon Magazine” in a recent interview.

The film offers a clear balance between beautiful art and cinematography and the reality of life and loss. Many teens today cope with the anxiety of first love on top of coping with life, death, relationships and the unknown. Regardless of your situation, it is easily to resonate with the themes present in “Chemical Hearts.”

Initially released Aug. 21, “Chemical Hearts” has made headlines since. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the film will not be hitting theaters any time soon. Luckily, it can be found on Prime Video, free with Amazon Prime.

September 10, 2020

Reporters

Natalie Abatemarco


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