We live in a time where TV shows are darker, violence in movies are more brutal and the news is generally depressing. The silver lining is feel-good movies, which are rare and important in 2018. Director and co-writer Brett Haley is on a mission to make us smile again with his film “Hearts Beat Loud.” If that wasn’t enough, he also packs up some outstanding music on top of a heartfelt father-daughter story.
Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman), a musician at heart, runs a small record store in Brooklyn and raises his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) alone after his wife’s death in a bicycle accident years ago.
This is the last summer the two spend together, for Sam is about to leave for pre-med at UCLA. When Sam reluctantly agrees to a jam session with her father, the two discover their sound. Together, they create a number of songs that make (sound)waves on Spotify.
Meanwhile, Sam struggles because her relationship with artist Rose (Sasha Lane) is at a turning point, with her leaving for college. Frank is also caught off-guard when his landlord and friend Leslie (Toni Collette) tells him she is forced to raise the rent for his store, killing what’s left of an already wafer-thin profit margin. At the end of the day, music is what brings them all together. Making them see the important things in life more clearly.
After premiering “Hearts Beat Loud” at Sundance, Haley comes back to SXSW where he presented his last movie “The Hero” in the previous year.
Now back as a headliner, Haley raises the bar and weaves with his writing partner Marc Basch, a wonderful story that is just as catchy as Frank and Sam’s tunes.
Haley takes his time and lets us witness the birth of their first song. Note by note, word by word, instrument by instrument. It is notable that Offerman and Clemons played and sang everything by themselves. This authenticity is exactly what makes this movie so special and the music so incredible.
Most people know Offerman from his extremely popular role as Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation,” but few people know his dramatic potential.
In this movie he shows that he is destined for more than comedic roles. He does an excellent job leading the cast and giving Frank some edges and imperfections.
Offerman’s co-star, Clemons, is even more impressive. When she starts singing, you get goosebumps; when she scolds her father for spending money on music instruments, it’s unclear who raises whom in this “Modern Family.” An excellent supporting cast completes this ensemble, one that I would have liked to watch for longer than just 97 minutes.
The only thing that didn’t feel quite right was the subplot around Frank’s mother, Marianne (Blythe Danner). She suffers from early stages of dementia. It seems some of her scenes were cut from the movie. While she definitely has a part in it, it feels like her story line is incomplete.
Just as important as the chemistry between Offerman and Clemons, the music compliments the film naturally.
Haley, who is also a passionate musician, works together with singer and songwriter Keegan DeWitt to make sure the songs are truly special, as the whole movie hinges on the audience liking the songs.
Without turning the movie into a musical, Haley gives the music a lot of airtime, and it pays off. The songs are catchy, emotional, performed with heart and at no time this feels like watching actors in a movie. It feels real.
“Hearts Beat Loud” is the perfect summer movie; you will want to watch it with your family or a loved one in an open-air-theater. It’s perfect entertainment and an uplifting and charming gem of a movie that invites for multiple viewings just to listen to all the songs again.
Brett Haley made another wonderful movie, and it will be interesting what we will see from him next.
You will like “Hearts Beat Loud” if you enjoyed the following movies:
“High Fidelity,” “Almost Famous,” “School of Rock,” “The Hero,” “The Big Sick,” “Gifted”
‘Hearts Beat Loud’ (2018)
Directed by Brett Haley
Written by Brett Haley & Marc Basch
With Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, Ted Danson, Blythe Danner
Music by Keegan DeWitt
Cinematography by Eric Lin
97 minutes, PG-13