How ‘Broken Hearts Gallery’ Was Inspired by Writer Natalie Krinsky’s Personal Heartbreak

“I wrote the first draft of the movie over 10 years ago — it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had!” the filmmaker tells TheWrap

Natalie Krinsky, writer and director of “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” drew inspiration from her own breakups for the romantic comedy starring Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery.

The film, which opens in theaters on Friday, follows Lucy (Viswanathan) who curates a gallery of memorabilia from past relationships and heart breaks, after her breakup with much older Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar) and encourages others who are getting over a breakup to donate to the gallery. Selena Gomez serves an executive producer on the film.

“I wrote the first draft of the movie over 10 years ago — it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had!” Krinsky told TheWrap on the phone from Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, just one day after giving birth. “Before I met my husband and starting making my human beings, I was at a crossroads. I was 25 years old, I had broken up with my boyfriend in a spectacularly heartbreaking way, I had been moving apartments, I had been fired from my job, I was a struggling writer and trying to figure how to be a success in this business.”

While sifting “through the detritus of this past relationship” during her apartment move, she recalled thinking, “I do not know what to do with this stuff — should I keep it? I was in this time loop, thinking, ‘What am I gonna do with his old sweatpants?’ That’s where this movie blossomed from and over the years, it molded and changed.”

“The Broken Hearts Gallery” is Krinsky’s directorial debut. Previously, she had written for shows like “Gossip Girl,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “90210,” and she produced one episode of the TV series “Red Band Society.” “Ironically, the script for ‘Broken Hearts Gallery’ got me my job on ‘Gossip Girl,'” she said. “It was the sample I used to get the job. Those shows… not only are they run by women like Stephanie Savage and Shonda Rhimes, but I got to sit at the feet of two female creators who I really admire and I learned incredible lessons from them.”

Below Krinski discusses shooting in New York City, the appeal of washer/dryers and working with Selena Gomez.

Do you imagine your characters when you write? Did you always envision Geraldine Viswanathan in the main role?
Geraldine was probably 12 years old when I first wrote this, but I don’t imagine a physical type or an actor as much as I imagine a hero voice. Geraldine, I could do this whole interview just talking about her. She balances this comedic timing which is so stunning and funny and warm and she’s still able to hold this emotional center of the character. When I met her it really clicked, and I knew, “This is the person.” We haven’t seen her lead a romantic comedy before so she felt new and fresh for me, she reminded me of people I grew up with, like Renée Zellweger in “Bridget Jones,” Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally…” — those women are really funny and irreverent and snappy and Geraldine also had that.

What was your favorite scene to shoot?
That final party scene. It was so much fun and in COVID-19, you have this renewed appreciation for 150 actors being in a room with cranes and neon signs. In a tribute to “When Harry Met Sally…” we shot the classic New York walk-and-talk and the long-lens shot of Dacre and Geraldine walking down the street talking about their opposing life philosophies. My favorite scene to write was the three girls together because their dialogue is so snappy. It was about getting to re-explore that time in your 20s with your girlfriends when you know time flows through your fingers — I got to relive those moments.

The conversations between the three girlfriends about how mature Lucy’s older boyfriend is because he lives in the West Village and owns a fridge, where did you draw inspiration for that dialogue?
I have had many of those conversations with my friends. I remember I was 25 and the idea of having a washer/dryer and someone having coffee-table books… that someone who is maybe 10 years older than you, you see them as these like very evolved, mature human beings and these trappings of grown-up life seems so impressive. And that’s the allure of Max for Lucy — he seems like he has it all together, and that’s impressive to her in her 20s. Until that point, you are kind of dating within your high school. Then the world opens up to you.

How did Selena Gomez become involved in the project?
Selena has been building a million businesses — we should all just take a nap and let her lead us into 2021. She had already produced “13 Reasons Why” and was building that arm of her business, and before we were setting up to do the movie, she had gotten the script — we’re repped at the same place — and she sparks to it. She’s been through some break-ups and she identified with the concept and she and I had this meeting and I got to share my look book and we started bonding about the artifacts we both held on to. That was the beginning of the conversations — she helped shape the scenes with the girlfriends. It was a great collaboration and she saw and understood what I wanted to do and supported me completely.