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Parents' Guide to

Chemical Hearts

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Grief, trauma, sex, and heartbreak in book-based teen drama.

Movie R 2020 93 minutes
Chemical Hearts Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 18 parent reviews

age 10+


I loved it it was very heartwarming
age 15+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (18 ):
Kids say (36 ):

This movie misses an opportunity to craft a more realistic portrayal of the teen years, which seems to be its intention, by striking an excessively melancholic tone. One telling scene is when Grace discovers a suicide theme in the books on a teacher's syllabus. The books -- The Catcher in the Rye and Ordinary People among them -- have something else in common: they portray the teen years as generally sad and ultimately scarring. Chemical Hearts conveys that mood in its languid pace, memorable nighttime scenes at an abandoned mill, a graveyard, and a Halloween party, and visual analogies like Grace's leg scars and Henry's broken ceramics.

The lead actors (Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams) both offer sensitive performances that capture the hole Grace finds herself in and pulls Henry temporarily into. The problem is that the film wants to generalize about teens, yet Grace is the exception rather than the rule. This is captured in the generally vivacious background characters, whose stories unfortunately go largely unexplored. Chemical Hearts opens with a quote: "You're never more alive than when you're a teenager." The line works as almost a caveat, a way of justifying character actions or emotions that might come across as, well, unrealistic.

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