Hearts Beat Loud is a nice little film. It is the kind of feel good movie that has just enough optimism to bring you joy, but it doesn’t go overboard with it. It is rooted in reality, which is a nice change from the color by number approach I am used to seeing in movies with similar setups. Nick Offerman plays Frank Fisher, a washed up musician that owns a record store and is raising his daughter Sam, Kiersey Clemons, on its own, as his wife has died years ago. Sam is just about to leave for college and studies hard to get into med school. One evening, Frank and Sam manage to record a really good song during one of their father-daughter jam session. This reignites the creative fire in Frank who sees an opportunity to claim some musical glory together with his daughter. Sam on the other hand is not interested, as her own ambition is to become a doctor. And in the background, they also have to deal with a failing business, a somewhat troublesome grandma and the prospect of relationship with other people that might not last.
The story, as you could read it above, is not ground-breaking. There have been hundreds of movies about family/friends that form a band, have a hit and have to deal with the conflict of ambitions that results from it. They really aren’t the best of movies. What sets this movie apart from them is that is made with heart. The movie has a big, big, heart that will keep you warm like a blanked for all of its 97 minutes of run time. Maybe longer. Nick Offerman comes across as a loving father, that lives a bohemian life. He comes from a family of musicians, his wife was also a musician. He lives and breathes music. The character of Frank is in stark opposite of what we are used to from Offerman, but surprisingly it works. There is this thing with his eyes that Offerman is doing, namely, he keeps them wide open all the time, which offers him a look of calm and wonder, which combined with his bohemian attitude, makes him come across somewhat childish, but in the good way. Sam on the other hand is the proverbial adult in the family, despite just finishing high school. She has a good head on her shoulders, she likes academics but also, in terms of music, she is more talented than her father, which is a bit bothersome for Frank. Not because she is more talented, but because she is moving away from the music. He is proud of his daughter and her achievements but then again, she is somewhat denying her roots and talents by not pursuing music as a vocation. Besides the father-daughter duo, there are a couple of supporting characters, but not many, just enough to provide an occasional pick-me-up for the leads. For Frank there’s Dave, the bar tender, played by Ted Danson, and Leslie, the landlady of his record store. I particularly enjoyed Danson in his role, it made me remember his show from long time ago, Cheers. As for Sam, she has Rose, a love interest, played by Sasha Lane, and grandma, played by Blythe Danner, who is a cool lady, gets arrested a few times and has no issue sharing more intimate stories about her with her grandkid. But what I most appreciate about this movie is that it keeps its head out of the clouds. Things never go as we imagine and our characters are well aware that life comes in the way. Actually, they see it coming from a mile away and they are making choices that are not based on wishful thinking, they look at the long run instead, even if that comes with a price.
Since music is such a big part of our protagonists lives, the movie must also contain its fair share of it. Also, there are at least 4 original songs here, the ones the characters have supposedly written, and they are really good. Furthermore, when you hear them, you are hearing the actual cast singing and playing the music, live on set. No lip sinking or other trickery were involved. The actors did their own stunts, I mean, their own performance when it came to the music. No bad, I must say.
One more thing I must point out. This is not something I would normally mention because it doesn’t really has an influence on the story or on the actors performance, I think. But the movie is doing a great job in representing minorities. Offerman is clearly Caucasian, but his supposed wife was African-American, so you have elements of a mixed marriage, something that is clearly visible on Sam, since this parent setup mirrors the Kiersey Clemons (Sam) heritage. Also, her love interest in the movie is a girl, and when Frank finds out that she has somebody, he is not troubled that that person could be a girl. The relationship between Sam and Rose is portrayed as a normal relationship, as it should. I really liked this message that the movie tried to convey, that all that matters is the music and happiness. All the rest is background static.
All in all, I warmly recommend Hearts Beat Loud. It is this seasons feel good movie. And it manages to do so while staying realistic, relatable. So, go on, and enjoy the story, the music, the feels.