Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Hearts Beat Loud (2018) dir. Brett Haley

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Ugh, you know, sometimes we just need to feel GOOD. And right now, especially, good is not an easy thing to feel–it’s easy to feel angry, self-righteous, anxious, agitated, etc., but not good. I’m usually the first to decry a romantic comedy/dramedy. Give me something dark and moody with an upsetting or unsettling ending, or something so artistic I’ll end up writing a review just about color–that’s what I usually opt for. Hearts Beat Loud doesn’t not fall into the now-well-established genre of Indie Brooklyn Romdramcom, but there was still something fresh and deep about it. I loved it.

Here’s the run-down. Nick Offerman (the reason I felt inclined to catch this flick in the first place) is a dad named Frank, who used to be in a band with his wife and now owns a failing record store in Brooklyn. His wife is no longer around, and that is all I will say about that. Kiersey Clemons is his daughter, Sam, who has ambitions to become a doctor, an enviable coif, and a serious set of pipes, but no desire to pursue a musical career, much to Frank’s dismay. Frank convinces his daughter to jam out with him, for old time’s sake, and they put together a love song that I might’ve listened to on Spotify since watching the movie. Frank wants to start a band with Sam. Sam doesn’t want to start a band with her dad. Toni Collette and Ted Danson are also in this movie; they play a landlord and a stoned bar-owner, respectively. I think that’s all you really need to know about the plot.

This film abounds with love, just so many different kinds of love: dad-daughter love, girl-girl love, man-woman love, man-man friendship love, person-passion love. It really runs the gamut in terms of love. Of course, because it’s a romantic dramedy and involves love, there’s conflict and struggle and tension, and it’s not heartbreakingly sweet the entire damn time. Will they get together? Will they stay together? I was genuinely concerned and genuinely moved. You root for the love, and there’s something so lovely about that, about witnessing others’ love play out. Against your better judgment, part of you wants Sam to stay in New York and not try long-distance and start a band with her dad instead of going to college. What! Who would advise an 18-year-old to do that! That’s how tender and raw these relationships are.

Beneath it all, though, is a harsh reality: gentrification blows. It’s never overtly stated that Frank has to close his shop because the neighborhood is too expensive, but he can no longer afford his rent (and I can’t imagine it’s because too few Brooklyn hipsters are buying records), and contemplates working at an artisan charcuterie shop. Now, of course, gentrification doesn’t just hurt the white record store owner. But because you love these characters almost as much as they love each other, you really feel for him, maybe even if you regret his choice to spend too much money on instruments for a band his daughter doesn’t want to start.

As the genre suggests, things are going to end up pretty okay. In this case, maybe it’s not going to work out like a dream, but it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, guys. And at the end of the day, that’s probably why I loved this movie so much. It reflects our time in a remarkably optimistic way. Things are far from ideal, but those things haven’t exterminated the love that abounds. We’ll adapt and find a way to make the best out of shitty circumstances, we’ll create a celebration in a time of loss if that is what we need to do. It’s going to be okay.

Hearts Beat Loud
2018
dir. Brett Haley
97 min.

Now playing at Kendall Square Cinema

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