Over the years, New Jersey has served as a surprising (albeit familiar) backdrop for many cinematic masterpieces. The 2018 movie “Paterson”, “The Wrestler” and the ‘90s classic, “Clerks.” Although the state’s appeal is commonly called into question, it has become a suburban, East Coast version of Hollywood. That’s why when I watched one of Amazon Prime Video’s latest releases this past weekend, I was surprised to learn that “Chemical Hearts” filmed in NJ.
As a book-lover, it’s no coincidence that my personal streaming queue is filled with an array of literary adaptations. While the texts don’t always translate on-screen, there are exceptions to everything. I had been waiting for the popular 2016 YA novel by Krystal Sutherland, “Our Chemical Hearts,” to debut on Amazon, and it finally did so in late August. The movie stars Lili Reinheart (“Riverdale”), Austin Abrams (“Euphoria”) and was written, directed and produced for Amazon Studios by Richard Tanne—a Livingston, NJ native.
About the Movie:
Without giving too much away, “Chemical Hearts” is a coming-of-age story that centers around teenage love. But that’s about as cookie-cutter as it gets. The film sets itself apart by honing in on themes such as loss, grief, empathy, mortality and embraces an overall gritty tone. One that reflects the gradual transition from adolescence to adulthood. The narrative, while familiar, is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing (and also, holding back tears).
This was a film I resonated with for a number of reasons. Was it because I too was an aspiring writer in high school like the movie’s main characters? Perhaps it’s because my YA lit obsession is still ongoing. Or, was it because I was also born and raised in NJ? It doesn’t get more true-to-life than seeing the streets and landmarks of your home state up on the big screen.
So Where Was “Chemical Hearts” Filmed in NJ?
1. Woodland Cemetery in Newark
As previously mentioned, the movie confronts themes such as mortality and grief. Naturally, Reinhart and Abrams make several trips to a cemetery throughout the film, which has since been identified as Woodland Cemetary in Newark.
2. Emerson Junior-Senior High School in Emerson
It’s clear that Tanne wanted the film to feel particularly real so using this Emerson, NJ school as an on-location set provides an authentic high school experience. You can see Reinhart and Abrams chatting in the halls, walking the grounds and acting as co-editors-in-chief in the classroom.
3. A Warehouse Complex in Paterson
While the exact location hasn’t been disclosed, a dilapidated Paterson warehouse is a common meeting place throughout “Chemical Hearts.” In the movie, Reinhart notes that this industrial-looking abandoned complex is somewhere that she often goes to retreat.
4. The Towns of Montclair, Glen Ridge and West Orange
The charming neighborhoods (and woods) of Essex County make an appearance in more ways than one throughout the film. The homes of Abrams and Reinhart are set on quiet suburban streets, and the two frequently meander around the woods. Something that North Jersey hiking enthusiasts may be familiar with.
Main image via Amazon.com