The Broken Hearts Gallery star Geraldine Viswanathan says comedy is more vital than ever before in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, stating that “we need it to survive”.
After her breakout role in raucous teen comedy Blockers in 2018, Viswanathan now plays a New York 20-something who’s fond of keeping mementos after break-ups.
With the help of a down on his luck hotel owner — played by Power Rangers and Stranger Things star Dacre Montgomery — she turns her mementos, and those donated by others, into a unique gallery.
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“I think we’re uncovering [our love for comedies] more during this time. I just want to watch comedies,” Viswanathan told Yahoo Movies UK.
“It has been cool to see these comedies, especially studio comedies, have this sort of resurgence. And it has been fun to be a part of one of them.”
Montgomery said the current global health crisis means that a movie like The Broken Hearts Gallery now hits differently than it would have done before we all knew what COVID-19 was.
He said: “It’s almost sort of a posthumous portrayal of a different kind of world, when it was easier to meet people.
“And I think now, oddly, it will have this kind of old-age relevance with people even just since February since we have been going through this global pandemic.”
The 25-year-old leading man said The Broken Hearts Gallery will feel like something of a tonic for those struggling with the sadness of the world today.
He said: “It can tend to feel quite claustrophobic and crowded by news and isolation and all of these sorts of things. I’m hoping for the best for [this movie], definitely.”
The Broken Hearts Gallery is the directorial debut of Natalie Krinsky and also stars Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Suki Waterhouse and Arturo Castro.
Read the full interview with Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery in which we discuss karaoke, the history of the New York romcom and the improvisation on set...
Yahoo Movies UK: I wanted to start, if I may, with the karaoke scene. It’s fair to say you both have your unique approaches to karaoke. Were they a reflection of yourselves or the characters?
Dacre Montgomery: Definitely [myself]. I am so nervous. Geraldine quite literally held my hands to get me through it because I was s***ting bricks, as they say.
Geraldine Viswanathan: I’m always the one that’s making everyone get up on stage. I’m definitely that person that’s like “you’re doing it, sorry, you have no say”.
Karaoke is all about commitment, and you have that Geraldine.
GV: Thank you! That’s all it is.
Obviously this film is part of a great tradition of New York romcoms. Was there any pressure for you guys in taking on that genre, particularly as two non-Americans?
DM: Yeah. I felt very confident because Geraldine is obviously so talented and so is Natalie [Krinsky, writer-director] and the script was there. We had such an amazing group of cast members. I don’t know if I was thinking about it really. I have romcoms that I’m in love with, but I always just thought that maybe this is in that genre but we were making something that I didn’t want to make comparisons to as we were going through the process.
GV: It just felt like such a fantasy for me. I’ve spent the last couple of years in New York and it felt really cool to be set there. It’s kind of rare these days.
Were you guys watching other romcoms or New York movies to get yourself ready?
GV: I watched When Harry Met Sally pretty close to when we started filming. That’s a big one for me. I love that movie.
Any excuse to watch that movie again!
GV: Exactly. I was like: “This is my homework? Great!”
When you actually came to make the movie, how easy was it to find that on-screen chemistry that is so important to the story?
DM: Geraldine had already been cast and I came over to LA to do a chemistry read. I’m very nervous a lot of the time and so, again, I was very nervous. Geraldine just helped me through the whole process because I was very nervous. Also, I had never really worked with an Australian actress and that was so nice. I found the catharsis even more through the process because of that.
GV: It’s hugely important and we were so lucky on this movie that it just worked. There always needs to be that movie magic and I think we had that. With everyone on set, it was just such good energy.
You’re blessed as well by the strong supporting cast. Like just about everybody, I’m obsessed with rewatching Hamilton on Disney+, so I can’t even imagine how exciting it was to have Phillipa Soo there.
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DM: It was fantastic. And also on the day, everyone would bring a lot of options. I had a lot of scenes with Arturo [Castro] and he would bring so many jokes for every line and every scene and so many of them have made the cut. That was wonderful because I hadn’t really worked with a group of people like that who were so quick on their feet to add options and alternatives to this ever-evolving romcom.
That’s really interesting. Was there a vibe of that on the set, of improvisation and people bringing new ideas?
GV: Very much so. Natalie really set the stage for us to all bring our own ideas and really bring ourselves to it. It just made it so much fun and it was so collaborative because it was so open. There was a lot of improvising and I think it’s really important in comedy because that spontaneity and looseness, I think, is what translates on screen.
And did that come easily to you guys? Especially you, Dacre, having done less comedy?
DM: Again, the cast, Geraldine and Natalie all have these amazing creative minds, dramatic and comedic, and bring so many options. For me, it was just a learning experience, especially coming from a different kind of genre or content world. It did really force me to push myself out of this level of comfort and being safe, I guess, in my choices. It was really scary, obviously, but great as an ever-learning person to experience that.
Hollywood comedy is in a really good place at the moment. I’m thinking of films like Game Night and Booksmart and, of course, your movie Blockers, Geraldine. Do you guys think it’s a good time to be doing comedy in America?
GV: It’s always a good time! I think we need it. Oh my God, we need it to survive. I think we’re uncovering that more during this time. I just want to watch comedies. And it has been cool to see these comedies, especially studio comedies, have this sort of resurgence. And it has been fun to be a part of one of them.
You mentioned the times we’re living in there and that has obviously loomed in some ways over the release of this film. Do you think it has, in some ways, made it a better time to release a film like this one?
DM: A hundred percent. I was talking to someone the other day about the lack of widely spread, studio, cinematic release romcoms that don’t just go straight to a streamer. So I think in the first instance, having a romcom that’s coming out is fantastic.
We were just talking with another journalist about this idea that it’s almost sort of a posthumous portrayal of a different kind of world, when it was easier to meet people. And I think now, oddly, it will have this kind of old-age relevance with people even just since February since we have been going through this global pandemic.
And like Geraldine is saying, it will provide a really nice level of escapism to not only go to the cinema — hopefully, if you can and they’re open in your county, your state, your country or whatever — but also to go and have that level of escapism. It can tend to feel quite claustrophobic and crowded by news and isolation and all of these sorts of things. I’m hoping for the best for this, definitely.
GV: Well said.
Thank you very much for your time. Next time you’re in London, you’ll have to give me a shout for some karaoke and I’ll be right there.
GV: Yes please!
The Broken Hearts Gallery is in UK cinemas from 11 September.