The shallow documentary “Broken Harts” examines a tragic crime: In March, 2018, the Washington couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart killed their six adopted children by driving off a California cliff. At first, authorities assumed the automobile crash was an accident. Further investigation revealed that the ladies had been abusing their youngsters, and had premeditated the plunge as an act of household annihilation.
Based on a podcast by Glamour, “Broken Harts” (streaming on Discovery+) unfolds as a patchwork of true-crime clichés. After opening with a montage of sinister sound bites, the film delves into the crash and the revelations that occurred within the days and weeks following. The particulars are juicy sufficient, however because the story continues, the investigation timeline begins to really feel like superficial framing for the story.
More compelling — and tougher — are the racial and financial elements underpinning the tragedy. Jennifer and Sarah, each white, adopted the six youngsters of shade. The two went on to make use of social media and group platforms to curate an image of concord, vitality and bliss. The girls’s posturing was calculated: Their idyllic facade hid a sample of neglect and abuse occurring behind closed doorways.
The film, directed by Gregory Palmer, finds its footing in interviews with the journalist Zaron Burnett. He discusses how the Harts bought a picture of white saviorism, after which he expands their story to spotlight the techniques that enabled their conduct. Burnett’s evaluation is sharp, and his phrases go away a chance hanging within the air — that with a bolder and broader framework, “Broken Harts” might need been greater than quick meals for true-crime obsessives.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Watch on Discovery+.