Review: Hearts Beat Loud (Sundance)

Hearts Beat Loud (Sundance)
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PLOT: A single dad (Nick Offerman) starts a band with his college-bound daughter (Kiersey Clemons) in the summer before she leaves for school.

REVIEW: Writer-director Brett Haley has a better Sundance record than most. His last two films, I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS & THE HERO both wound-up becoming among the highest grossing indie releases of their respective years, and he’s back with something of a departure for him.

Unlike his other films, HEARTS BEAT LOUD isn’t focused on coming to terms with mortality, nor does it have the same under-current of melancholy those did. As befits the younger cast (at forty-seven, Nick Offerman is Haley's youngest protagonist since his first film, THE NEW YEAR) HEARTS BEAT LOUD, while occasionally dipping its toe into melodrama, focuses on the joy of discovery. Here, Offerman and his on-screen daughter not only discover their own hidden talents, but they also rediscover each other, rekindling their own, close father-daughter relationship just in-time to have an awesome summer together before each starts a new chapter in their lives.

This is a strong showcase for the two stars. Offerman’s rarely been this vulnerable on-screen, with him usually playing a kind of variation on Ron Swanson. There are some modest similarities between the characters here, basically that each refuses to suffer fools, but Swanson wouldn’t know what to make with his doppelganger here who’s even something of a hipster. Looking lean and fit, and sporting a cool NYC beard and some tats, this is the most contemporary I’ve ever seen him, and it’s almost jarring (at first) to see him as a knowledgeable record shop proprietor espousing the virtues of Animal Collective - but it works well.

Kiersey Clemons (DOPE, JUSTICE LEAGUE) plays his much more practical daughter, with the death her mum and his late wife forcing her to become a kind of defacto parent. He wants to start a band, she wants to study and go to med school. He racks up debt on his credit card buying guitars and a sampler, she just wants him to save money for when she’s gone, and to take care of his ailing mom (a cameo by Blythe Danner).

The give and take between the two is excellent, with a real underpinning sense of affection between them that’s tough to fake. Most importantly, given the premise, they make wonderful music together, with Offerman displaying some chops on the guitar and a nice vocal style, while her singing is recording-contract level good. The songs are catchy and could wind up generating a certain level of cool once the soundtrack hits Spotify upon it’s release.

The supporting cast is as strong as always for Haley, with Ted Danson playing Offerman’s best-buddy barkeep. Offerman and Clemons both get their own love interests, with his being Toni Collette as his sympathetic record-shop landlord, while Clemons experiences the pangs of first love when she falls for AMERICAN HONEY’s Sasha Lane, who plays a local artist. It all adds up to a thoroughly pleasant indie comedy, and it’s not surprising the rights for this one sold long before its first official screening at the festival. I could see this becoming a nice sleeper hit for Gunpowder & Sky, and I hope they do right by it, as it’s a charming little film.

Source: JoBlo.com



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