Hearts Beat Loud is a film that presents evidence that perhaps the oldest and trustiest of adages might be wrong from time to time. Maybe, just maybe, a book can occasionally be judged by its cover. After all, impressions derived from a single still or frame of Hearts Beat Loud would likely stir up a rather fair and accurate impression as to its tone.
It is the Zooey-est and the Deschanel-iest of films not to grace Ms Deschanel herself. Cut from slightly more offbeat, kooky and whimsical cloth, Hearts Beat Loud will no doubt offer a comforting embrace around the shoulders for those who like their dramedies so. Written and directed by Brett Haley (with assistance on the writing front from his regular cohort, Marc Basch), we are presented with ageing dreamer and single father Frank (Nick Offerman), whose record store is a vibrant but money-hemorrhaging unit. His young, talented daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is facing her final summer before she cuts loose and heads off to college.
With change facing Frank flush in the face, he does what any self-respecting hippy would do: he buries his head in the sand. He is in the flux of denial and persists in dragging his reluctant daughter into jamming sessions with a view to forming a bona fide band.
After securing a recording of a track that they have worked on, Frank uploads it to Spotify under the name We’re Not a Band (so named as a flippant riposte of disinterest and defiance from Sam to her father’s proclamations). It quickly becomes a popular track, with record labels soon taking an interest. Whilst this entire hullabaloo carries on, love hangs in the air in the form of well-meaning landlady, Leslie (Toni Collette), towards Frank, and Sam’s blossoming relationship with Rose (Sasha Lane).
This quaint indie flick is propelled by melancholia. It is a melancholia that touches upon loss and redemption, solace and hope. Rich with humanity, it’s about looking forward, letting go, dusting oneself down and forging a path forward. Plus, any film that features a louche Ted Danson as a seasoned ageing, old-skool hippy running his own bar in suave, edgy New York is bound to raise a warm smile.
There is a warm hue to the shot composition and a naturalistic dialogue that evokes comparison with any number of mumblecore outings (think Ira Sachs or Alex Ross Perry, in particular), Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson and, most obviously, Stephen Frears’s High Fidelity. Whilst it doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the aforementioned, there is charm galore on offer here and some fine music too. Hearts Beat Loud is a minor work, yes, but also one that chimes melodiously in its own minor key.