Hearts Beat Loud
This little film defines why I love going to the movies.
The best way for me to praise this remarkable movie is to say that it joins Harold and Maude (1971) as one of my favorite independent films of all time. Quite frankly, the music in Hearts sustains its emotional magic in the same fashion that Cat Stevens’s soundtrack did in Harold.
Here, Director Brett Haley, who previously graced us with I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015) and The Hero (2017), brings us a story of a father and daughter living in New York who are both wrestling with their future. The father, played brilliantly by Nick Offerman, has run a record shop for 17 years that he is being forced to close. His angst is enhanced when his daughter is preparing to leave for medical school at UCLA.
What makes this movie so engaging is that it reflects the consequences of the gradual aging process on parent and child. Mr. Offerman’s Frank, a widower, is obviously attracted to his business landlord Leslie, played in expected eye-catching style by the talented Toni Collette. When not distracted by a mother (Blythe Danner) dancing on the edge of dementia, he drowns his sorrows at a local bar run by his friend Dave, played by Ted Dansen in a memorable role. The relationship between these characters reflects their honest attempt to find meaning in life, and it is both heartwarming and quite funny at various moments.
However, as good as Mr. Offerman is, this movie belongs to Kiersey Clemons, who plays daughter Sam. While she is dedicated to attending college and becoming a doctor, it is hard for her to leave New York given her intense attraction to Rose (Sasha Lane) and a sneaking desire to form a band with her father. There has never been a more entertaining scene in films of any caliber than when you watch Sam and her father, who used to play in a band, entertain each other at home by exploring their mutual musical skills.
While I don’t dare give it away, the film’s ending leaves an emotional impact that you will embrace with joy. Let me just say that on the night that Offerman’s dad has to close his shop, he and daughter Sam put on a short performance in front of a few patrons where they sing three songs that were composed at home. With Offerman playing both the drums and his guitar, Ms. Clemons belts out the songs, one of which entitled Hearts Beat Loud is likely to be nominated come Oscar time.
Let me just close by saying that this moment will leave you embracing both father/daughter and their music with the same wide smile as seen on the customers’ faces in dad’s store.