In Reviews

June 13th, 2018




I wish Nick Offerman was my guitar playing dad. I really mean that. Is there anything this guy can’t do? He made us laugh time and again on Parks & Recreation. He’s written numerous books about wood carving and this time he’s showing off his musical talents in Hearts Beat Loud, the newest film from indie director Brett Haley. You will not only become infatuated with Offerman all over again, but we are also introduced to the extremely talented Kiersey Clemons, an actress who has the voice of an angel, and the acting chops to be a major player in cinema circles. It’s all there on display in Hearts Beat Loud, a film about Frank (Offerman), a father whose record store is closing, while his mother (Blythe Danner) is going senile, and his daughter Sam (Clemons) will soon be leaving for college on the west coast. Before she’s gone for good, the father & daughter discover that they aren’t too bad at making beautiful music, and in that creative process, they see how special their relationship has meant to one another.

A year ago, Brett Haley directed The Hero, a film that unfairly did not receive enough love from critics and audiences. It dealt with a narrative about living the end of one’s life to the fullest and a father making up for past mistakes with his daughter. Hearts Beat Loud is not as bleak as the former, but it is a daring film, about a family that has dealt with the loss of their wife/mom, and how bonding together as a family makes their pain hurt less. Not to mention, this movie celebrates the collaborative process and an appreciation for good music.

What Haley and co-writer Marc Basch do a strong job at is balancing various characters, their struggles in life, and merging them all together with kind, human conversations. Frank is going through the fear of losing everything he has. His record store, a friendship with his daughter, his mother, all of these things are his livelihood. His landlord (played effortlessly by Toni Collette) becomes a friend to confide in and a possible business partner, but the complications of attraction, loneliness, and expectations can get in the way of a good thing. The same conflicts are paralleled with Sam, who has found a beautiful lover in Rose (Sasha Lane), a new appreciation for making music, and a fear for what the future could bring.

On top of all the honest drama, Hearts Beat Loud is often funny, and includes fantastic music that brought a big smile to my face. The duo hilariously name themselves “We’re Not A Band”, and just by chance of Frank submitting their first song to Spotify, they soon hear themselves played in a local cafe for fans to enjoy. This forces them to make a choice: keep going as a successful band or just let the music die. Now, I wouldn’t put this in the same category of greatness that was the movie Sing Street, but Hearts Beat Loud is a beautiful breath of fresh-air to our society. The music by Keegan DeWitt is a cool, unique mixture of strings, keyboards, and beats, making the entire process of following these two a complete joy.

Last year I was blown away by the brilliance of Zoe Lister-Jones and her marriage-music counseling film Band Aid and this year we get Hearts Beat Loud, another fantastic installment from Brett Haley. I won’t say the director’s work is perfect, but this is someone who continues to make heartfelt stories, fights for independent films, tells a beautiful story for the LGBT community, and knows what it means to be an artist. Plus, like me he has an appreciation for Nick Offerman, who shines as a caring father, that just loves good tunes, and his friendship with his daughter. If you’re going to see any movies to celebrate father’s day this weekend, make it Hearts Beat Loud.


Written by: Leo Brady

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