Hearts Beat Loud
Starring Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner
After focusing on people in their twilight years in films like “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “The Hero,” promising new writer/director Brett Haley has shifted his focus. “Hearts Beat Loud” is first and foremost a father/daughter “dramedy.” It is also a film about music and a story about difficult choices. Haley and screenwriting partner Marc Basch, for a third time, deliver a film with problems yes, but also a unique and creative film in a familiar genre. “Hearts Beat Loud” feels like a distant cousin of “Begin Again” as it centers around the modern independent music scene. One noticeable difference was how “Begin Again” showed us so much of New York’s local color, while “Hearts Beat Loud” only ever shows New York from a far distance.
Red Hook Records is the name of Frank Fisher’s dying breed of a store. The widowed father is being forced to shut down the corner store that doesn’t have grand customer service, and only sells vinyl records and a couple of t-shirts. “I held out on raising the rent as long as I could,” says Leslie the landlord (Toni Collette), softening the blow to Frank (Nick Offerman). His daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is completely immersed in preparing for her first year of med school on the West Coast. She is so preoccupied, that she skips out on the regular jam sessions with dad in their hipster apartment. “You have been trying to start a band with me since I was twelve,” balking at his suggestion of putting off school to pursue her songwriting and vocal talents.
Haley and screenwriting partner Marc Basch, for a third time, deliver a film with problems yes, but also a unique and creative film in a familiar genre.
“You’re not funny,” a customer snaps back when Frank refuses to put out a cigarette behind the counter of the store. Initially, I agreed with the customer. I’ve rarely found Offerman funny whether in “Me Earl and the Dying Girl” or “The Founder,” about McDonald’s Ray Kroc. The bearded, pissed-off looking actor has become a staple in independent films, but this is by far his most memorable and identifiable performance. The chemistry between Offerman and scene stealer Kiersey Clemons (“The Only Living Boy in New York”) is the crux of the film. The script explores and even explains how this father, in particular, has become more of the child in the relationship and the teenager the more mature adult of the two.
“Hearts Beat Loud” also explores how the modern digital age of music has led to the demise of brick and mortar stores like Frank’s. The films most unoriginal moments are with Blythe Danner as the elderly thief, whose character is entirely unnecessary to the plot. Additionally, the flirtatious interactions between Offerman and Collette are weak compared to what the rest of the movie is selling. Clever dialogue keeps the story focused, Ted Danson is also a nice touch in his cameo role. “When you finally get your chance to leave, you find a reason to stay,” is a quote from “Gattaca” (1997) and “Hearts Beat Loud” feels like an entire film based around that idea. Having the dilemma of choosing whether it’s better to pursue what lies ahead or remain in a life that’s familiar.
The first movie of the summer that really makes you feel something.