Hearts Beat Loud

Something at the core of Brett Haley's Hearts Beat Loud draws viewers in but also keeps the picture from really taking off. The film, which stars Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn during the summer before she leaves for UCLA, carries a message about the universality and restorative powers of music, how it unifies and rejuvenates, but the picture doesn't offer enough connective tissue to give the story any weight. Offerman's Frank barely runs a record shop, which exists, sadly, more as a narrative device than another character, which would have been sooo much better. Frank has virtually no interactions with customers, in fact, no one darkens the door of store through 90 percent of the film. Most of Frank's contact is with his pretty and brainy daughter, Sam; his friend, local barkeep and weed head Dave (Ted Danson) and his landlady / friend(?) Leslie (the ever-engaging Toni Collette). But their interactions are a bit plodding and reveal little about any of them. The most interesting aspect of the film, for me, is the treatment of the creative process, as Frank, who had a brief and undistinguished music career when he was young, and Sam write a song together that becomes an indie darling on Spotify (which along with Apple probably bankrolled this picture). This reawakens Frank's dormant longing to be heard and, perhaps, to bring back to life Sam's mother, who was the victim of a motorway accident while riding a bicycle years before. It is in all of these potentially resonant elements that the movie ultimately disappoints. Though it features three nifty emoesque ballads, the picture doesn't allow the characters to explore their pain, loneliness or disappointments or why they are doing any of the things they are doing. Too often Haley resorts to trite aphorisms that are folded into songs and so become anthemic. Offerman and Clemons are both fine in their roles but there is no warmth between them and, truly regrettably, Sam's relationship with a lovely but one-dimensional artist (Sasha Lane) feels tacked on and insubstantial.


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