Hearts Beat Loud
Indie music lovers rejoice! Hearts Beat Loud is a charming dramedy and an ode to music and song-writing. Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a widower raising his smart and driven daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons) in Brooklyn, New York. Both are reaching a crossroads in their lives- Frank owns a failing record store owned by landlady Leslie (Toni Colette) and is charged with taking care of his mother (Blythe Danner) who often finds herself getting into trouble. Sam is preparing to move across country to start college at UCLA with lofty goals of becoming a doctor. We navigate this father-daughter relationship through their shared loved of creating music. After a rather successful jam-session produces a catchy song called "Hearts Beat Loud," Frank uploads it to Spotify where it picks up steam after being included in a curated playlist. The We're Not A Band duo must decide what to do next.
Nick Offerman really shows off his range bringing a multi-faceted performance as a single dad with a failed music career trying to figure out a way to connect with his teenage daughter before she leaves for college. His relationship with Sam feels very authentic and made me believe they've only had each other for quite a while. Frank longs to have his daughter embrace her musical talents... while projecting a bit of his past failure on her. We see him clearly trying to figure out the next chapter of his life from struggling to let go of his daughter, to navigating a possible love interest with Leslie, to closing his record store, to helping his mother, to the exciting possibility of reviving his failed music career with his super talented, yet reluctant daughter. He give us plenty of comedic relief (i.e. when he first hears their song in a coffee shop), but not in the way we know and love from his Ron Swanson days... just by him embodying an endearing, loving dad. There's a standout scene towards the end after their performance in the record store where Sam speaks and he just looks back at her with no dialogue and it's truly some of his best work in the whole movie.
Kiersey Clemons is a force in this film. She's incredibly musically talented and shows us how much her star is on the rise. She balances the frustration many of us went through with our parents at that age without crossing too far over the edge of mean while still showing the love and admiration she has for her dad. Her performance had just the right amount of maturity to believably portray a young adult desperately trying to forge her own path.
At times the movie seems to turn into a long music video/concert, which I had no qualms about, but I could see where some might. As a music lover, I rather enjoyed the film's entire soundtrack, even outside of the duo's performances. My complaints stem from some of the opportunities to really drive home a few of the more emotionally fraught scenes but were just left a bit unexplored. I wanted more out of the biking scene (and the one right after) considering how much of a plot point that really was. I think if it would've went there, we'd have a real conversation about this film during awards season.
Overall, this film is a nice, heartwarming story about relationships, art and music that is worth the watch. It is not ground-breaking and, as mentioned, I don't expect to see this in any award discussions, but it has some modern storytelling that deserves a platform. In particular, Sam's relationship with Rose (Sasha Lane) is both genuine and completely relatable as many find themselves in similar situations before college. It was so refreshing that the genders of their relationship weren't even a discussion point in the film. Frank even asks her first if she has a girlfriend before asking about a boyfriend. It was just accepted as any relationship should be, and I hope that more films to come follow this lead. I wouldn't say you need to run to the theater for this one, but if you're looking for a movie that feels like a warm hug and makes you smile, this is a great option.
Brit's pro tip: Don't sleep on Ted Danson's performance as Frank's kooky bartender friend. Cheers fans will definitely feel a tinge of nostalgia with this one.