Hearts Beat Loud | Dads, Daughters and Dreams

Myself and two other people were in the screening of Hearts Beat Loud this morning and all I can think about is how I wish there were more.

Brett Haley is set to direct an adaptation of one of my favourite books, All The Bright Places, and so I was thrilled to see this beautifully short but sweet piece of cinema today.

Nick Offerman plays Frank Fisher, an ex band member turned record shop owner and father of Sam Clemons played wonderfully by Kiersey Clemons who is just about to head off to become a doctor at UCLA, almost 3,000 miles away from her New York home. Things this summer are just seeming to begin for her when she finds herself in love with a girl called Rose (Sasha Lane) and when in an evening "jam sesh" with her dad, a song she recorded with him ends up on the New Indie Mix playlist on Spotify. The pair accidentally end up in their own duo named We're Not A Band. 

As a quick side note I really love when directors utilise the character's life before the story. I loved the lack of emphasis on the death of the mother and the daughter's sexuality. It was nice to see a father ask "do you have a girlfriend?" without it becoming a whole new storyline as the film didn't have enough real estate for this to be explored. It simply just existed the same way most heterosexual teenage relationships do on screen and I appreciated that. You could see Kiersey was sure of the character she was playing and felt comfortable she had enough information to play it truthfully.

A narrative such as this one is very easily made into a sequence of clich├ęs which Brett Haley did not allow to happen. There were maybe one or two lines that felt slightly on the nose but besides that I loved the way the characters moved through the story and expressed themselves. It felt very honest and true to life.

There was one line that stood out to me and I kept playing through my mind after it'd been said on screen by Dave (Ted Danson), a friend of Frank's who is essentially a one hit wonder on Broadway. He said "We don't always get to do what we love so we have to learn to love what we do" and there's something so heart-wrenching in it despite being expressed so simply. It could've been delivered in a very omniscient way but it was, instead, expressed as an encouragement to Frank. It's a line I'll carry with me in order to warn myself to do the opposite but it seems enough for our character and therefore, enough for us as an audience.

Another way Haley utilised the life outside the story was never expanding on why Sam wanted to be a doctor but I believed it was her dream and therefore it allowed the story to not be one simply of wasted dreams and consistent loss. I would've perhaps liked to know a little more about it, as I was rooting for her as a musician, but it would've been a conversation I imagine herself and her father would have had many times before and therefore it did not need to be expressed in this narrative.

Time was utilised so well throughout. I really felt it running away from the characters faster than they could hold onto it which is what gave the narrative its bittersweet feel. Sam and Frank didn't have enough time to explore this dream together but I don't believe they were denied anything by the writers.

I want to talk about perhaps the movie's most pivotal moment because it was just such a beautiful scene, and it also had me tearing up. Frank's record shop he has owned for 17 years is closing down and on the day, Sam comes down to visit. You can just feel the ache she has for her father as she skims through all the records he's had to sell at bargain price. She looks at him and says "Hey dad, remember the Titanic?" to which Nick Offerman responds "That's cheery" but Sam then goes on to express how there was a band playing on deck whilst everything fell down around them which leads to We're Not A Band's first performance in his store, Red Hook Records.

I loved the way the store felt like a metaphor for Sam and Frank's relationship. It had been alive as long as she had and it coincidentally is coming to a close the same summer she is off to college. Two of the things he loves most in his life are leaving him and yet Frank speaks so openly about change to the people around him. He embraces the ending of one thing meaning the start of something else and therefore it allowed us as an audience to be at peace with his decisions. Nick Offerman gave such a wonderfully nuanced performance and the father/daughter rapport between himself and Kiersey Clemons was so sincere and sweet.

I can't express to you enough how beautifully well done this film was. So many simplistic moments coupled with a beautiful soundtrack and heartfelt performances. There were some parts I wish were given a little more real estate such as Frank's mother's narrative and the relationship between Sam and Rose but I don't believe many things were left without a gratifying payoff. I don't want to spoil the end for any of you guys or much more of the story so I hope you understand me not expanding much further than this. Just know I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope you all will, also.

Until next time

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