“Hearts Beat Loud” is a quiet film, but don’t let that fool you. The production from writer/director Brett Haley shouts its messages about love, family and the addictiveness of passions.
Haley shows how commanding a film delivered in lean-in-to-hear quiet tones can be. In a world where theaters shake with the latest big action movie, it’s a gift to find a film that shakes the viewer’s emotions with an equal amount of intensity.
Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a retail dinosaur trying to hold on to the record store business he has run since ending his days as a professional musician. At the same time, he is facing the reality that his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons), is leaving for college. Frank wants the best for his daughter, but the separation anxiety is full blown, because they have made their way together since the death of Frank’s wife.
What appears to be a life preserver comes to Frank in the form of a song he and Sam have recorded. After Frank posts the tune online, the reaction is strong enough that he sees a future in which they become a permanent band. That would keep his passion for music alive and derail his daughter’s plans to leave home.
Haley does a beautiful job in showing the impending joy and eventual reality check Frank faces as he must choose between his own passions or letting them go for a greater good.
Offerman turns in a quietly powerful performance as both the caring father and the passionate musician. Each note of his performance resonates with emotional tones that are anchored in reality and accented with heart. It’s a balanced performance that makes the viewer sympathetic to his need to hang on to the two greatest loves of his life — music and his daughter — while at the same feeling pity for him when he takes such a stubborn stance.
Clemons delivers an equally strong performance as Sam faces her own crossroads, especially with a new love, Rose (Sasha Lane). Couple that with her deep feelings for her father, and Clemons gives Sam a grounded feel.
Musically, Clemons has a rich singing voice, and Offerman’s skills are just strong enough to make the title tune the most memorable film song since “That Thing You Do.”
In addition, Toni Collette, Ted Danson and Blythe Danner in supporting roles provide bonus moments that are powerful and fun.
“Hearts Beat Loud” is a lyrical tale of dealing with passions and knowing when to fight for what you love and when to let go. It’s a message delivered with great panache through Haley’s finely tuned script and performances that are in perfect harmony.
‘Hearts Beat Loud’
Rated PG-13 for drug references, language.