A film with a synopsis that must check every box in the ‘Sundance movie’ criteria, Hearts Beat Loud is a light, enjoyable film that washes over you – though perhaps doesn’t linger in the mind long after the credits roll.
Nick Offerman plays Frank, a likeable, overbearing and goofy record shop owner and single father to Sam, played (wonderfully) by Kiersey Clemons. As the record shop begins to go under, the two bond over songwriting, as Sam’s songs act as a route into her current inner life for him, and a way for him to share his old life with her. Offerman’s performance is a far cry from his grumpy, stoic role on Parks and Recreation, playing a dad lame enough to pick the band name ‘We’re Not a Band’ in response to his daughter’s dismissal of his idea for them to form one.
Together they make the kind of songs that you’d expect to hear at the end of a Riverdale episode, but the process is sweet and involving all the same. It’s nice enough throughout; the most joyous, standout moments come when they perform live.
With the exception of Rose (Sasha Lane, still the coolest), the other characters feel like an afterthought. Regardless, what’s there is engaging, as Clemons doesn’t just give a great performance but she’s got pipes too, greatly elevating the songs that the father and daughter perform. Moments where Sam lets herself completely get into the performance are the high points of the movie. Haley treats the relationship between Sam and Rose with refreshing frankness and sweetness, a relationship allowed to exist without suffering. Lane is as cool and genuine as usual, and the two have lovely chemistry.
As a story about a ragtag band bonding over songwriting and a passion for music, Hearts Beat Loud is not as exciting as, say, Sing Street, but it’s a pleasant, inoffensive experience, a Carney movie in a lower key.
CAST: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner and Toni Collette,
DIRECTOR: Brett Haley
WRITERS: Brett Haley, Marc Basch
SYNOPSIS: A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting duo in the summer before she leaves for college.