I must admit that I did not have very high expectations for this film since the basic description of it is “a father tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter by starting a band with her while his record shop dwindles out of business.” Already, that sounds depressing, but becomes even more so as it is gradually revealed that Frank’s (Nick Offerman) wife and Sam’s (Kiersey Clemons) mother was killed in a hit and run accident while riding her bike, and that she and Frank used to be in a band together in their youth. Now, Sam is preparing to go to college to become a doctor, while her less practical father thinks she should pursue a career in music after writing a few songs together.
It is a bit strange to see Nick Offerman in a serious role, and as a father no less, of a biracial lesbian teenager. At any rate, he fulfills his comic duties with his fair share of cringe-worthy “dad jokes” including the fact that he names their band “We’re Not A Band” after his daughter rolls her eyes and makes the same remark. The cast itself is full of colorful characters like the kooky, stoner bartender Dave (Ted Danson), the two-timing yet compassionate landlady Leslie (Toni Collette), and the ever-beautiful Bohemian artist Rose (Sasha Lane) who plays the girlfriend of Sam.
The ingenuity of the film lies in what it reveals about the characters and their relationships with each other. It does so very slowly, as in a scene where Sam and Rose stroll under streetlights and no one can quite figure out who they are to one another. The manner in which director Brett Haley presents topics of interracial and same-sex relationships is as natural as it should be in this day.
The film also succeeds in portraying the struggles of burgeoning musicians who face such challenges as putting their music into mixes with thousands of other artists and playing at coffee shops – or record stores, in this case, in front of a crowd of six.
To the technologically unenlightened, Hearts Beat Loud shows some of the ways that new musicians can get their music out to the world, one being something we are quite fond of here at The Z Review: Spotify playlists! It also introduces viewers to some real, lesser-known artists like Mitski, whose song “Your Best American Girl” is featured in the film. I highly recommend looking up the video to this song, as Mitski gives off some serious and wonderfully weird Björk vibes.
In the end, this movie was much better than I expected. At times, it felt like the plot was a bit thin, or that they tried to force some secondary storylines like the relationship between Frank and Leslie, and his temporary outrage when she is spotted at a bar with another man which he very quickly seems to forget about. But otherwise, it was a heart-warming, coming-of-age story about music’s ability to heal and connect others through life’s many challenges.