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‘Language of a Broken Heart’ spawns a broken film

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Nick Juddy Talt

Violet Lara Pulver

Mimi Julie White

Emma Kate French

Cubbie Ethan Cohn

Adam Oscar Nunez

House Lights Media presents a film directed by Rocky Powell. Written by Juddy Talt. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated R (for some sexual references). Opening Friday at Skokie Regal Gardens and Regal Lincolnshire Stadium.

Updated: May 20, 2013 6:10AM

Here’s a hot mess of a movie revolving around the undistinguished romantic life of a self-absorbed protagonist who can’t see the forest for the trees. Despite some mildly interesting performances, “Language of a Broken Heart” is an indie rom-com filled with cliches we’ve seen many times before.

Nick (Juddy Talt) is a tall, handsome and talented New Yorker. The best-selling author of a series of romance novels, he doesn’t have a clue about how to hold on to a relationship in real life. Apparently, his problem is that he’s just too sensitive and eager to commit. Do women really run away from these traits? In this movie, they do. He’s picked a long line of “wrong women” who consistently pour salt on his wounded heart.

There are flashbacks to past loves, but the central story begins with Nick walking in on his cheating girlfriend Violet (a wickedly nuanced Lara Pulver). She tells him it’s over while he continues to grovel and plead for another chance. Seeking solace, he heads to his inept therapist, Adam (a funny turn by Oscar Nunez), a politically incorrect adviser who hasn’t heard a hip-hop song he won’t quote. Their adventure into clubland is doomed from the start.

To recoup, Nick heads to his hometown (Rockford, Ill.) to commiserate with his old pal Cubbie (Ethan Cohn), who has more serious problems of his own. His mother, Mimi (a frisky Julie White), who has an answer for everything, tells him his heart is just too big for most women. More moping ensues. But thanks to mixed-up baggage, the inevitable meet-cute moment has already happened at the airport.

Into Nick’s circle comes Emma (a delightful Kate French), a sweet bookstore owner, decked out in obligatory oversized glasses and goofy hat, who instantly captures his attention. Yet he pushes her away and insults her livelihood. While there might be some truth in his insult directed at the works of William Faulkner (“reading Faulkner is like getting directions from a drunk guy”), in this scenario it’s simply a mean comment meant to be funny that lands like a thud.

Yes, there’ a lot of forced humor throughout. In another instance, Nick keeps walking in on his naked mother who takes peculiar pleasure in these awkward moments. No, this isn’t funny; it’s just plain creepy and a bit sad.

Try as one might there just isn’t much here to care about. Talt also wrote the script, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can come up with something more compelling when he ditches the mopey angst of this first effort; there’s talent buried underneath.

To his credit, director Rocky Powell, in his first feature film, does what he can with the material. The film looks good and sparks of life bloom in several performances, especially Pulver as the unfeeling Violet, White as the loony Mimi and French as the all-knowing Emma.

“Language of a Broken Heart” has the Lifetime Network written all over it. It’s a fitting entry for that venue but as a theatrical feature, it’s simply not up to the task.

Mary Houlihan is a locally based free-lance writer.

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