By Maureen Lee Lenker
October 16, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
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Credit: Freestyle Releasing

2 Hearts has its two hearts (sorry) in the right place, but it’s manipulative dross that’s not even particularly effective as it lunges for the tear ducts.

Directed by Lance Hool, the film tells the true story of 19-year-old Christopher Gregory (a ham-fistedly goofy Jacob Elordi), an organ donor who saved the life of businessman Jorge Bacardi and whose legacy inspired his father to write a book. On screen, Christopher’s life parallels that of Jorge's (Adan Canto), as both men embark and wrestle with the weighty expectations of their families. Based on the true-life inspiration, it's no surprise their lives end up intersecting in tragic fashion.

There are noble intentions here, celebrating the generosity and selflessness of organ donors, as well as the renewing power of family and young love. But despite the presence of strong talent like Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire) and Tiera Skovbye (Riverdale), the performances are amateurish, weighed down by a script that feels manufactured by afterschool special writers on a deadline.

The plot is centrally about two romances and the unexpected link between two big-hearted men. But it takes head-scratching twists and turns, including a prolonged “dream sequence” that introduces nonsensical developments and gaping plot holes that only make sense once revealed to be a dream an agonizing 20 minutes later. The film wants to sell us Jorge and Chris as romantic heroes, but their pickup lines and declarations of love are more cringe than caress.

The action is set in a barely defined place and time with Jorge’s tale beginning somewhere in the ‘60s, based on his penchant for Pan-Am and stewardess Leslie (Mitchell). Chris’ story is vaguely early in the 21st century, late enough for cell phones to exist, but early enough for him and love interest Sam (Skovbye) to need to create an on-campus ride share service in the days before Uber and Lyft. This imprecision is likely meant to obscure the climactic connection between the two men, but it just adds to the slipshod nature of the whole thing.

Skovbye and Mitchell are the biggest standouts, striving to bring believability and genuine emotion to the proceedings, but it’s hard to resuscitate a project this far gone. For a brief, sparkling moment, there are the glimmers of a Nicholas Sparks-esque doomed romance, until it plunges back into TV movie territory. I’m not anti treacly, tragic love stories and would never consider myself above well-executed emotional manipulation. But despite being a heartfelt effort by the parties involved, 2 Hearts has all the subtlety of a jackhammer that can't manage to successfully crack one’s heart into bits.

There’s a great film to be made about organ donation — the miraculous, often mysterious link between donor and recipient and how that decision touches lives. But 2 Hearts doesn’t come close to finding the pulse required to be that movie. D

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