Year:  2018

Director:  Brett Haley

Rated:  M

Release:  September 6, 2018

Distributor: Park Circus

Running time: 93 minutes

Worth: $14.00
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Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner

...just might worm its way into your heart.

A brief, snarky exchange in the opening scene of the charming indie dramedy Hearts Beat Loud introduces us to the film’s central protagonist Frank (Nick Offerman) as an ornery, rule-breaking shopkeeper. Frank runs Red Hook Records, a music store that’s crammed with rows and rows of vintage vinyl records. Despite its hipster Brooklyn locale, business is virtually non-existent. He’s a middle-aged single dad to teenage daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) who’s on the verge of moving to the West Coast to study medicine at UCLA. Meanwhile, Frank’s mum (played by Blythe Danner) is starting to lose her faculties and is acting out. Hence, when we’re dropped into this world we see Frank is arriving at a crossroads.

A weekly pursuit is father and daughter’s musical jam sessions, nicely illustrating the pair’s sweet and playful dynamic. Frank noodles around on the guitar while Sam experiments with melodies on the keyboard. It’s fun to watch a song take shape, even if it comes together with a little too much ease.

This time they produce a catchy pop song that Frank uploads to an online music streaming service. The song (the title track Hearts Beat Loud) starts to gain airplay and suddenly Frank declares he wants to launch a father-daughter touring act, which conflicts with Sam’s imminent plans for college. Sam’s blossoming relationship with Rose (Sasha Lane) also has her questioning her future path.

Collaborating with screenwriter Marc Basch, writer/director Brett Haley’s screenplay is appealing but comes across as a bit underwhelming. The stakes are low and some of the ideas – such as this seldom-depicted case of a father facing empty nest syndrome – feel as if they could use deeper exploration. Information and plot points are doled out gradually, such as what happened to Sam’s mum as well as hints at Frank’s uneventful musical past. Fortunately, the story avoids a predictable outcome and Haley’s directorial style feels relaxed and unintrusive.

Offerman is perhaps best known known for his role as Ron Swanson in the US TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. Here, he gives us his usual deadpan delivery and conveys a low key demeanour, and it’s to Haley’s credit that he avoids amplifying Offerman’s more quirky traits. We get a rare burst of elation from him the first time he hears their song over the airwaves, and the scene makes you grin at his unbridled enthusiasm.

The stellar supporting cast includes Toni Colette as his landlady and Ted Danson as his mate who runs the local bar (recalling the hit TV show Cheers that established Danson’s comedy career during the ‘80s). Every character is portrayed with authenticity and there’s a genuine chemistry between Offerman and Clemons, who is reminiscent of the equally adorable Thandie Newton.

Keegan DeWitt’s original songs are pretty and instantly likable. In regard to its dramatic beats, Hearts Beat Loud probably isn’t exactly going to dazzle you, but it just might worm its way into your heart.



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