Hearts Beat Loud

Widower Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) and his teenaged daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons, "Dope") are both at a crossroads. After seventeen years, he is faced with closing his beloved Red Hook Records store. Sam is about to head to the west coast to attend college just as she's started a romance with artist Rose ("American Honey's" Sasha Lane). Both need to mull their futures when one of their jam sessions turns into a song which lands in a Spotify collection in "Hearts Beat Loud."

Laura's Review: B

Cowriter (with Marc Basch)/director Brett Haley ("I'll See You in My Dreams," "The Hero") makes sweet and funny films costarring an older person and a younger one about people facing changes in their lives. His latest skews younger, Offerman two-three decades younger than Danner (who plays his mother here) or Elliot, while placing the musical connection between "Dreams'" Danner and Short front and center. The film is a wonderful showcase for the multi-talented Clemons, who gives Keegan DeWitt's original songs conviction and soul. We can glean an immediate understanding that retail isn't Frank's first love by the way he disregards a customer's objection to his smoking. The man does enjoy spreading his musical gospel, as we witness with his next customer, commercial landlady Leslie (Toni Collette), but absolutely revels in the 'jam seshes' he has with Sam. He's having a more difficult time enticing her into play, though, she intent on her pre-med studies. This is one of those cases where the child is more responsible than the parent. But Sam's feelings for Rose find their natural expression in song lyrics and Frank, intuiting the inspiration, encourages them. Her aptitude with electronics, his skill on guitar and both their talent for percussion layer into 'Hearts Beat Loud' and Frank is so taken with it, he uploads it to Spotify, using Sam's tart retort to his pipe dreaming, 'We are not a band,' as their band name. Soon thereafter, Frank hears the song playing in a local Brooklyn bakery and surprises Sam with an expensive sampler. She is unmoved, questioning the expenditure, but once she's left him deflated, we can see the bug has bitten. The film's focus is mainly on Frank. A guilty Leslie's dinner treat suggests budding romance until a nightcap at his buddy Dave's (Ted Danson) authentic bar nosedives when Leslie runs into Ryan (Quincy Dunn-Baker). Dreams of touring with his daughter are uppermost in his mind, perhaps because Sam's mother Danielle, killed tragically in a road accident, once shared a stage with him and Sam has clearly inherited her pipes. But even if Sam were to take a year, there's the case of his mother, Marianne (Blythe Danner), whose encroaching dementia demands attention. "Hearts Beat Loud" favors a sense of place and music over plot. Haley's Red Hook is nostalgic and authentic, Frank's financial problems stated more than evidenced. This is a small film about people using music to address the distress of change and it soars to its highest heights watching Offerman and Clemons collaborate. Grade:

Robin's Review: C+

Frank (Nick Offerman), a widower, is struggling keeping the doors to his Red Hook Records shop open. His daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemmons), is graduating high school and moving out to LA for to study pre-med, bringing her dad a whopping tuition bill. Frank’s only solace to his woes is to create and play music with Sam in “Hearts Beat Loud.” Writer-director Brett Haley creates, with co-scribe Mark Basch, a father-daughter, coming of age, mid-life crisis musical that has its heart in the right place. But, to me, the many story lines do not get the shrift they need because there is no time for us to focus on any one of them. It is a likable film that benefits from the surly persona that Nick Offerman gives his character, Frank, and the heartfelt music that dominates the film. The father-daughter story, as I said, involves Frank’s dilemma with both paying Sam’s tuition and the fact that his beloved daughter and musical soul mate is moving 3000 miles away to UCLA. Frank’s antidote to his problems is for the two to jam together and he recognizes the real talent that Sam has. That is one story. Sam is attracted to another teen, Rose (Sasha Lane), and a summer love blooms. Now, Sam faces the same conflict as her dad – moving far away from those closest to you. But, because of the other stories being told, the relationship between Sam and Rose never really gels. Then there is Frank’s mid-life crisis. The record shop he once loved 17 years ago when he first opened has become more a burden, losing money every day. He must face reality and decides to close the store. Commiserating with Frank is his landlord, Leslie (Toni Colette), who offers the struggling shop owner a new chance. This rescue effort gets muddled by Frank’s attraction to Leslie, who does not exactly reciprocate the feeling. Oh, yeah. There is also the plot about Frank’s mom, Marianne (Blythe Danner), who may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and is arrested, more than once, for shoplifting, adding to Frank’s burden. This controversy, too, peters out in favor of other things, especially the music, as Frank sees him and Sam becoming stars. This is a lot of stuff to ingest in scant 97-minutes (though some scenes drag and make the film seem longer). I could not wrap myself around any of the many stories. As soon as I started to garner sympathy for one family plight, the film shifts to another. In the end, I was left feeling uninvolved.