‘Chemical Hearts’ Movie Review: ‘Riverdale’ Star Lili Reinhart Gets Vulnerable

On Riverdale, fans watch Lili Reinhart deal with the most outrageous drama this side of Archie comics. Even her role in Hustlers was outrageous, though based on a true story. Chemical Hearts is a more subdued drama that allows Reinhart to explore very real emotions to not only teenagers, but human beings in general.

Lili Reinhart
Lili Reinhart | Linda Kallerus/Amazon Studios

Reinhart also executive produced the film, based on Krystal Sutherland’s book Our Chemical Hearts. She clearly recognized the value this material could be not only to her, but to viewers who can relate to the story. Chemical Hearts premieres Aug. 21 on Amazon Prime. 

When Lili Reinhart met Austin Abrams in ‘Chemical Hearts’

Henry (Austin Abrams) is hoping to become the editor of the high school newspaper for his senior year. Grace (Reinhart) transfers to the school and the faculty advisor makes them co-editors. They end up walking home from school together too and eventually Grace becomes Henry’s first girlfriend. 

Chemical Hearts
Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams | Amazon Studios

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This is a lovely portrayal of how teens can connect without some high school movie gimmick. There’s no bet to see if one can make the other popular or something. They just hang out at the fish pond, and Henry reads the poetry Grace likes. He does it sincerely, to get to know her, not so he can score. He guesses wrong, however, when playing a song she listens too. It’s also important not to jump to conclusions. That wasn’t a happy song for her. 

The mature complexity of ‘Chemical Hearts’

Both Grace and Henry deal with deaths they experienced. Grace was in an automobile accident that killed someone she loved. Henry knew somebody who committed suicide too. Grace’s injury gives her more vulnerability too, and Reinhart gives a heartwrenching performance.

Chemical Hearts is really sensitive and perceptive about how teens deal with love mixed with grief and trauma. Innocent misunderstandings set Grace off, and she doesn’t lash out, but she deals with feelings. He has to understand. 

Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams
Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart | Amazon Studios

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They have conversations more mature than adults have. They acknowledge their own confusion and their own emotions. That may be a bit of dramatic license, as real humans are messier, but Chemical Hearts provides a good handbook for how one could discuss such things if they’re so inclined.

Lili Reinhart is scientifically appealing

When things are good between Grace and Henry, they are all over each other like infatuated teens. They do have a tad more restraint than the average teenager. They keep it tasteful. Their love scene is tender and responsible (they use protection). Grace also has a way of cutting through teenage boys’ hormones and making it a tender moment. 

Chemical Hearts: Henry and Grace
Austin Abrams and Lili Reinhart | Cara Howe/Amazon Studios

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Henry’s sister, Suds (Sarah Jones), explains the chemical highs and lows of love. That’s where the title comes from, but it’s also a good message. It’s not to say that love isn’t romantic, but it’s scientific too. It’s both, and understanding the biological reactions one has when falling in and out of love might let young viewers know that their feelings are normal. 

Reinhart’s Riverdale fans should be pleased with the subtleties Chemical Hearts allows her. That’s not to dismiss Riverdale’s epic drama either. It’s just nice to have both in the world.