Hearts Beat Loud
by Rachel Lewis
Director Brett Haley and co-writer Marc Basch have crafted a tender story of a father and daughter who spend a last summer together bridging their differences through a shared love of music.
Nick Offerman is charming as Frank, a man who’s never outgrown his dream of being a musician. Though his days are spent behind the counter of a record store, he wishes for something bigger. It’s his daughter, Sam (Kersey Clemons, from Dope and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), who is the family’s realist. Her goal is to go to college and become a doctor. The conundrum is that Sam has talent. A lot of it. Upon discovering how much talent Sam has during a family “jam sesh”, Frank’s dreams are reignited.
Much time is spent on the music itself. We watch as songs are written, revised, practiced, and recorded. These original tunes, written by Keegan DeWitt, are effective at highlighting the film’s themes, and the title song is catchy enough to stay in your head long after the credits roll.
The problem with this amount of attention on the music is that other areas of the film suffer for it. The relationships between characters are thin. We’re told there’s history present, but we never feel it. If the focus was kept on Frank and Sam, rather than expanding their world to include romantic relationships and a grandmother who adds little to the story, the audience connection might have gained more strength. As it is, we’re told to care about characters who have little dialogue and next to no screen time. Though this imbalance exists, the actors do their best with what they have.
There is a sweetness to the film, and Frank’s excitement is so contagious, Sam’s lack of enthusiasm is painful next to it. It’s a touching portrayal of a father and daughter who’ve grown apart, but find a way to reconnect. Terse conversations deepen as musical bridges are hammered out, with memories brought to the surface and shared through poetic lyrics. Moments that reveal pieces of the past are subtle, yet striking.
There’s much to like about Hearts Beat Loud, even if it does rely too much on the music to carry it.