I got nothin’. No clever or insightful intro. Never got a trailer for this, and only found out about it when I was browsing the movies for the week. So… onward.
The story looks like it’s about a father and daughter who are mostly on good terms and are both musically savvy. But there must be some kind of rift between them if he wants to start a small band with her, a prospect that she doesn’t seem too interested in until he releases their one song over the radio. I think she comes around and goes with it. So… did this trailer give everything away?
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Nick Offerman (NOSTALGIA , MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI , HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 , and upcoming films BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE  and BUTTERFLY IN THE TYPEWRITER ) and Kiersey Clemons (FLATLINERS , NEIGHBORS 2 , and upcoming films AN L.A. MINUTE  and SWEETHEART ).
In support, we have Toni Collette (XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE , this week’s HEREDITARY , and the upcoming VELVET BUZZSAW ), Ted Danson (THE GOOD PLACE [2016 – ongoing]), and Sasha Lane (AMERICAN HONEY , and the upcoming HELLBOY ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Brett Haley, known for THE HERO (2017). Haley’s partner-in-pen is Marc Basch, also known for THE HERO. Composing the score is Keegan DeWitt, known for GEMINI (2018) and THE HERO. Damn, it’s a reunion behind the scenes. The cinematographer is Eric Lin, known for EQUITY (2016). Finally, the editor is Patrick Colman, known for stuff I’ve never heard of.
Overall, I say that it’s going to be pretty good. I doubt it’s going to be an instant classic, but Offerman is always a fun talent for both comedy and drama, so I expect he’ll be great. Clemons is an up-and-coming talent worth keeping an eye on and she looks pretty solid as well. Who I’m really interested in seeing is Danson. After GOOD PLACE, I’m totally hooked on this guy and I hope he gets plenty of screen time. Other than that, expectations are above moderate, expecting something good, maybe not great, but worthwhile.
This is my honest opinion of: HEARTS BEAT LOUD
Set in New York. Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is the owner of a small seventeen year old record store called Red Hook Records, which is going out of business soon. His daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons), is a medical student who is about to leave for UCLA to pursue her medical degree. Both of them are musically gifted, with Frank knowing how to play a variety of instruments, and Sam being a talented singer, they occasionally have jam sessions together. One day, Frank manages to coax Sam into singing a song she’s written and, despite against her wishes, releases their song “Hearts Beat Loud” on Spotify, which finds its way into a playlist that he hears at a local coffee shop. Torn between allowing Sam to do what she wants and not letting her ignore her raw talent as a musician, the two constantly butt heads over what the future will hold for them.
It’s this year’s SING STREET. Okay, maybe not quite as good as that, but it’s still got a great soundtrack, great characters, and man, I really liked this movie.
Let’s start with the music. Yeah, it’s pretty cheap and low budget, but I think that’s part of the charm, especially considering we’re made privy to where the music is coming from. The emotions and meaning behind the songs come from a place of sincerity and honesty, so I say that it really helps how good the songs are. As soon as the movie ended, I immediately added “Hearts Beat Loud,” “Blink (One Million Miles),” “Everything Must Go,” and “Shut Your Eyes,” to my YoutubeRed playlists (basically everything featured in the movie itself). Oh, and who knew that Offerman could jam and sing? When the hell were were going to be gifted that? And who knew Clemons could sing too? Damn, she can really wail. I really hope we get another movie in the future with these two playing music again. Maybe not together, but they both looked like they were having a blast filming this.
Speaking of the characters, let’s talk about them. I adore the writing, for the most part. Frank is this man-child who loves spending time with Sam and playing music together, likely due to the fact that her mother passed away and latching onto her. But now that she’s an adult, she’s become more of an adult than he is, wanting to study to become a doctor and taking it very seriously, which has been a point of difficulty for Frank who doesn’t want her to miss out on what she could do with her talents. I love the way Offerman and Clemons bounce off of each other, both as a father and daughter, but as “band mates.” They’re a lot of fun to watch together in both regards.
Even the supporting characters aren’t bad. Danson as Dave the bar owner is really charismatic in just how much he loves sharing his love for marijuana, and he’s just an overall likable dude who cares about Frank, not wanting to over-serve him whiskey and spouting his special brand of wisdom to him. Love him. Collette as Frank’s romantic interest, Leslie, was also really charismatic for a role that’s not nearly as compelling as her usual body of work. But hey, if you’re going to give her a role that she’s way too overqualified for, then she might as well act the shit out of it, and act the shit out of it she does. I mean, there’s very little that she does in the movie other than want to add a barista station within Red Hook as a last ditch effort to save it because she loves the store so much, but other than that, she’s just someone for Frank to be in love with. But Collette works wonders with it in terms of her likability and is admittedly pretty fun to watch when she’s on screen as well. And holy hell, Lane really shined from time to time too! While I’ve never had a legit problem with her, I had some huge problems with AMERICAN HONEY. I didn’t know if her acting career would continue after that, but here she is and she’s given a pretty solid role and has her fair share of charisma as well. She plays Rose, who is basically Sam’s romantic interest. They’re both pretty cute together, but more than that, she has a couple of great moments. I love when she hears Sam’s song for the first time and has this great exchange where it’s like she was worried that Sam might sound bad, but ends up really liking it. Sam asks if she’d have said anything if she didn’t, and then Rose says that she’d be running out the door if that was the case. I love when movies are aware of their own good humor and laugh with the audience. Not to mention, Rose teaches Sam how to ride a bike. That was also cute. I really liked her scenes and even kind of wanted more of them. I would have been happy with an extra scene of them just being a lovey-dovey couple.
With all the praise I have toward this movie, I do have a couple of minor gripes.
For one thing, I don’t like how mean-spirited Frank and Sam can get. Sam is really cold toward her father who just wants to enjoy what time he’s got left with his daughter before she’s whisked away to college, and even has the occasional bout of scolding that seems a little too harsh at times. And Frank doesn’t escape this either. There’s an entire scene where he’s just being a drunken ass toward Leslie about her ideas of implementing that barista station and being all jealous of her male relations when they’re not exactly in an exclusive relationship really annoyed me.
Also I thought Marianne (Blythe Danner) was a pretty useless character. Her scenes are so randomly placed and seem like they should be important, but I know if you removed all of her scenes, the movie would have flowed just fine. I mean, she’s given a personality and everything, and with a fun performance by Danner, but the character just didn’t need to be there and really only has, like, two or three scenes that don’t add up to much.
Overall, I rather adore this film. The music is cute and catchy, Clemons and Offerman are wonderful together, the supporting cast is great, and it’s just a well-crafted movie with no shortage of charm, humor, and legit drama. I won’t lie, I got a little emotional at the end. I love movies that can get a rise out of me like that. Really, pick up the soundtrack and see what you think. Personally, I wish I had the renditions where it’s Clemons singing rather than DeWitt, but either way, I highly endorse both the soundtrack and film. So if you can’t tell, I highly recommend this flick. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s the whole package that makes a really good movie.
My honest rating for HEARTS BEAT LOUD: a strong 4/5
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