Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud offers a heartfelt narrative and fully developed characters who are unassuming which makes for a joyous experience for the audience.
In this era of mega-sequels and long drawn out franchises, releases like these often get lost in the shuffle. However, it’s usually these films which resonate with a broader audience that happen to be cast aside, rather than ones where Chris Pratt is attempting to outrun a Velociraptor. All of these movies serve a purpose and deserve the same level of attention (especially when they are done well). In today’s world, which is dominated by hate and divisiveness, Hearts Beat Loud‘s message of love and being accepted is just the ray of sunshine we need.
Our narrative centers on Frank (Nick Offerman) who runs a record store that’s on its last legs in the trendy section of Brooklyn’s Red Hook Neighborhood. His landlord (played by Toni Collette) breaks the news of an impending rent hike which results in his store having to close. Even with the prospects of economic hardships on the horizon, his mind seems to be on the impending departure of his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons) who is moving to California to study medicine at UCLA. Her father has been raising Sam for almost eleven years following the untimely passing of her mother. Mix in Frank’s mother (Blythe Danner) becoming increasingly out of touch with reality and it seems as if life beginning to spiral away from him.
Haley and Marc Basch’s narrative is a slice of Americana. They present an intriguing look at many of the problems affecting our world ranging from sexuality, elder care, and of course paying the bills. Nothing feels contrived, and there are no easy answers either. Frank’s grappling with the harsh reality of being alone and still after all these years not truly connecting with his daughter. The one thread which appears to connect these two is music. Sam’s father is ready to form a band with his daughter, but she’s slowly preparing to leave Brooklyn behind for sunny California. The struggle these two endure results in some very touching moments which will bring audiences to tears.
The supporting cast gave a strong performance which was crucial because Hearts Beat Loud could have quickly come across as a sappy, melodramatic film with some cool music. Leslie (Collette) is representative of the realities which Frank is facing but chooses to ignore. Dave (Ted Danson) is Frank’s (Offerman’s) closest confidant and is instrumental in helping him keep things in perspective. However, it was the performances of Offerman and Clemons which stood out. Clemons is terrific as the grounded and immensely talented daughter of Frank Fisher. Sam (Clemons) is a practical person, and the idea of forming a band with her dad seems so farfetched. She has such pain pent up from the loss of her mother that it affects her gaze. It’s evident that there is more to going so far away for college than studying medicine. Offerman’s portrayal of Frank shows a depth to his understanding of grief. Some people choose to tackle the loss of a loved one in the least healthy possible, avoidance. Frank likes keeping things consistent because it doesn’t require him to adjust. The departure of his daughter threatens this. Seeing Offerman’s character scramble to persuade his daughter to form a band is equal parts touching and soul-crushing. He honestly feels they can connect over Music and it’s that very thing Frank has wanted for the longest time. Offerman’s portrayal is rich with emotion and represents dads everywhere who struggle with relating to their children.
Keegan Dewitt’s music is filled with such exuberance and mirrors the themes touched on during the film. Overall, Hearts Beat Loud is the type of experience which sits with you and never lets go. Haley gained a ton of buzz after his work on The Hero, but Hearts Beat Loud strikes such a nerve that word of mouth will only help the film grow. My hope is this ultimately leads to a broader audience for a movie which needs to be seen if for no other reason than the message it sends.