“Hearts Beat Loud” Radiates With Love!

By Scott Kurland

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Film: Hearts Beat Loud

Starring: Kiersey Clemons, Nick Offerman, Sasha Lane, Toni Collette, Ted Danson and Blythe Danner

Rated: PG-13

Director: Brett Haley

                Some stories in films are propelled by their intensity, others their humor. Both carry the potential to leave their audiences wanting more. Then there are films like “Hearts Beat Loud;” a story in which everything from the first frame onward is, to put it simply...perfect.  Director Brett Haley never ceases to amaze me. He's the man behind last years “The Hero” starring Sam Elliott and the heartbreakingly beautiful ”I’ll See You In My Dreams.” Haley’s method of storytelling is to capture  the simple beauty of everyday life with characters that feel both fresh and familiar all at once. They are realistic slices of life; infused with both the sweet and the sour. “Hearts Beat Loud” is his third film, but it might be his best yet. Let’s find out shall we?

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                “Hearts Beat Loud” is the story of Sam and Frank Fisher (Kiersey Clemons, Nick Offerman); an unconventional father-daughter pair. Sam, who starts college in the fall is focused firmly on studying. Frank on the other hand, is the carefree child-at-heart father who desires nothing more than to break out the guitar and jam with his daughter. After the two record a hit song over the course of a single night, Frank decides they need to start a band. What follows is a bittersweet father-daughter musical journey, with a tender summer romance between Sam and an artist named Rose (Sasha Lane) sprinkled in.

                I absolutely loved this film and it shows us what can be achieved with a strong cast and a moderate budget. The fact that he made a brilliant modern musical on just $2 Million Dollars makes this man a true auteur in my eyes. Films like “Hearts Beat Loud” don't come along very often, Haley and co-writer Marc Basch’s script is a thing of beauty.  I realized this during one scene in particular where Offerman and Clemons are talking about love. Franks knowledge of his daughters sexual preference was clearly established long before their journey began. All too often, same sex relationships are portrayed as a point of tension or conflict in a film, but that is a slowly fading reality. Instead, Basch and Haley give us a glimpse of a father-daughter relationship that we don't usually see on screen; one that warms the heart. I hope come award season this script is remembered for its great dialogue. I truly hope "Hearts Beat Loud" gets a ton of award love.

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                I can’t talk about this film with out pointing out two of my favorite actresses working today: Kiersey Clemons and Sasha Lane. I was so excited that I got to see Diggy from “Dope” and Star from “American Honey” on-screen together.  Clemons is one of the most talented actresses working today. Watching her bring life to a character like Sam is a revelation. That goes double for Sasha Lane. Lane has the tougher role as Rose. Everyone has seen a film where a star rises and becomes a musical icon, but less common is the girlfriend who knows knows and accepts that she will likely get left behind. Rose knows instinctively that her role in Sam's life has an expiration date and Lane sells the hell out of it. Clemons and Lanes chemistry radiates off the screen and into your heart. Their love story might be one of the greatest I have seen depicted on film and I don’t just mean in an LGBTQ capacity. I’m talking about a genuine true love story. It’s real, it’s beautiful, and most importantly it’s what makes Sam’s music possible.

             Let's talk about the great Nick Offerman. This man can do everything. Acting, playing guitar, writing a book... he can even build a boat by hand. He is the textbook definition of a renaissance man. The role of Frank helps him break out of Ron Swanson territory as he shows us a man who just wants more time with his daughter. Frank is Offerman’s most layered character yet; one with demons and flaws he lives with daily. Offerman is another underrated actor who deserves a little Oscar love come award season.

                “Hearts Beat Loud” is hands-down my number one hidden gem of 2018, and quite possibly my favorite modern musical since “The Commitments.” The songs written by Keegan DeWitt will be on repeat in my car. Everything about this film gave me goosebumps and left me awestruck, especially when we finally get to see Frank and Sam in concert. Those scenes reminded me of “The Last Waltz” because of how it was shot and lit thanks to cinematographer Eric Lin. I don’t know how Haley keeps knocking it out of the park with his films, but he is on a hot streak that I hope keeps its momentum. 

REVIEW RATING: A+

scott kurland