Hearts Beat Loud

Review by Hannah Woodhead @goodjobliz

Directed by

Brett Haley

Starring

Kiersey Clemons Nick Offerman Toni Collette

Anticipation.

The plot synopsis reads like a game of Sundance mad libs...

Enjoyment.

Actually lovely – full of warmth, humour, and some excellent songs.

In Retrospect.

A slice of pure cinematic joy with Offerman and Clemons on top form.

A single father and his teenage daughter form a band in Brett Haley's sweet comedy.

Some two decades ago, the decline of vinyl was opined in High Fidelity and Empire Records. In 2018, with the vinyl industry in the grips of a tentative resurgence, one might question the need for another film centred around a struggling record store run by a grumpy white man, much less one located in the increasingly gentrified hipster haven of Brooklyn, New York. Lucky for all of us, then, that Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud is so much more than that.

Ex-musician Frank Fisher (the effortlessly Nick Offerman) runs a record store on the brink of closure in Red Hook, where rent hikes mean his beloved shop’s days are numbered. Between caring for his elderly but independent mother (Blythe Danner) and raising his talented, responsible daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) who’s gearing up to move to California for college, he’s at a loose end. After a song the father-daughter team record during a ‘jam sesh’ ends up being recognised by music industry bods, Frank sees it as an opportunity to officially start a band with Sam – but she’s not so sure it’s a good idea. In the wrong hands it’s a story that could have felt twee or achingly pretentious, but instead, driven by a charming cast, Heart Beats Loud feels wonderfully warm and inclusive.

The clue might be in the name, but this is a love story, all told. The blossoming relationship between Sam and her girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane) is the most obvious indication of this, but on a more granular level, Haley also paints a tender portrait of the relationship between a single father and his teenage daughter. In a more abstract sense, Hearts Beat Loud is about a pure love of music. Frank and Sam both seem happiest when they’re writing songs together, but the film also demonstrates how music connects people, be it through karaoke (Toni Collette, playing Frank’s landlord, gives a rousing performance of Chairlift’s ‘Bruises’) or simply sharing album recommendations.

With a stellar soundtrack including Mitski and Songs: Ohia, as well as some excellent original songs written by Keegan DeWitt and performed by the exceptionally talented Clemons and Offerman, it’s a rare treat to find a film with the earnestness of Hearts Beat Loud. It’s also unusual (and very welcome) to see a same-sex relationship portrayed with as much care as Sam and Rose’s, who are allowed to exist without any of the usual misery that besets LGBTQ love stories on screen. Haley’s film feels comfortably familiar in its coming-of-age dynamic, but its playfulness, lack of pretence, and smart casting elevate it from forgettable indie comedy fair into a genuine delight.

Published 2 Aug 2018

Tags: Hearts Beat Loud

Anticipation.

The plot synopsis reads like a game of Sundance mad libs...

Enjoyment.

Actually lovely – full of warmth, humour, and some excellent songs.

In Retrospect.

A slice of pure cinematic joy with Offerman and Clemons on top form.

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