Hearts Beat Loud
dir Brett Haley
scr Brett Haley, Marc Basch
prd Sam Bisbee, Houston King, Sam Slater
with Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Alex Reznik, Harrison Chad, Robert Reed Murphy, Michael Abbott Jr, Rafael Poueriet
release US 8.Jun.18, UK 3.Aug.18
18/US 1h37
Hearts Beat Loud
We're not a band: Clemons and Offerman

collette danson lane
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Hearts Beat Loud In the vein of a John Carney crowd-pleasers (see Once, Begin Again, Sing Street), Brett Haley's warmly engaging drama combines strong characters and lots of homespun music. It's anchored in fine performances from Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter facing enormous changes as they enter new stages of life. So watching them interact, clash and remain deeply connected is very moving.

In Red Hook, Brooklyn, Frank (Offerman) knows that it's time to shutter his vintage record shop after 17 years and get some help for his senile mother (Danner). This is also is his last summer with daughter Sam (Clemons), who's heading to California to study medicine. When one of their regular jam sessions goes particularly well, Frank uploads the song to Spotify and is amazed when it gains momentum. Then his landlady friend Leslie (Collette) offers him an alternative that might save the shop. Meanwhile, Sam is torn about leaving her new girlfriend Rose (Lane).

Haley weaves these various strands together in a loose, relaxed way that's refreshingly scruffy. The production design may be rather too cool, from Frank's cluttered store to the stylishly hipster flat where he raised Sam after his wife died. But these bare-bricked sets nicely match the indie rock Frank and Sam use to express their feelings about everything that's going on with them. And there's even a ramshackle local bar where everybody knows your name, complete with barman buddy Dave (Danson).

Yes, everything here has been assembled with precision to appear offhanded and improvisational. But Offerman is particularly skilled at this kind of thing, bringing out dry comedy, warm affection and some powerful but subtly expressed emotion. His interaction with Clemons sometimes feels a little idyllic, but there are edges that keep it real. And Clemons shines on her own in both the musical and dramatic scenes. Collette and Lane are the other standouts, with fine moments that refuse to fall back on stereotypes.

It's in the connections between these characters that the story's themes resonate strongest: the yearning for elusive success in both career and relationships, the fear of change, the need to just let go and see where life takes you. These thoughts and feelings are easy to identify with, as is the shifting relationship between parent and child. So perhaps the film's strongest aspect is nostalgia for the past. But there's also a gentle nudge to embrace an unsure future.

cert 12 themes, language 9.Jul.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall