When the family went to see Hearts Beat Loud at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, I felt that the relationship between Frank, a widowed Brooklyn father (Nick Offerman) and his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) felt real, genuine. The departed mother figure is not forgotten even as they both negotiate changes in their lives.
Sam is getting ready to study pre-med on the opposite coast. Frank decides that’s just the right time for them to start a band, even as he gets ready to close his record store. The girl IS a talented singer-songwriter, and they’d jammed in the past, but that was strictly recreational.
Moreover, though Sam has started a new romance, this does not alter her plans to move away and find her own way. Frank secretly tries to keep the musical dream alive. Will “We Are Not A Band,” Sam’s declaration, become, well, a band? The film is a bit sentimental without being schmaltzy.
The director and co-writer is Brett Haley, whose worst reviewed film, the Hero (2017) was still 78% positive. I couldn’t help but wondering why Hearts Beat Loud reviewed far worse with audiences (72% positive) than with critics (90% positive). I have a theory, but it’s a bit of a spoiler.
I also resonated with the cause of of death of the mother which resonated in my life far more than it might have a couple months earlier.
The movie also stars Ted Danson as a bartender who is nothing like Sam Malone on the TV show Cheers; Toni Collette as the landlord at Frank’s store, and maybe more; Sasha Lane; and Blythe Danner as Frank’s mom. Danner also starred in Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015), which I saw at the Spectrum, naturally, and mostly liked.
The Rogerebert.com page calls Hearts Beat Loud “warm and intimate.” I’ll accept that assessment.