The film Hearts Beat Loud is a whimsical father-daughter tale that takes place in Red Hook, Brooklyn, about an unlikely songwriting duo that bid their farewells respectively — as Frank (Nick Offerman) closes his record store and Sam (Kiersey Clemons) heads off to college. Red Hook Records, which seems to be the last on the brink of extinction of vinyl record stores, is due to close its doors and its owner Frank has his sights set on creating music as opposed to selling it. His daughter Sam, who wants to pursue a medical degree at UCLA, has inherited the musical gene she shares with her father, but her plans don’t quite align with Frank’s as she’s reluctant to experiment with musical beats and lyrics as her oddball father is. While Frank’s head is in the clouds with dreams of becoming a pop star, Sam has her head in the books as she preps for her freshman year in med school.
Hearts Beat Loud — which made its world premiere at Sundance — offers a three-dimensional story with a compelling cast of characters. From the shoplifting granny of Sam’s played by Blythe Danner to the pothead bartender played by Ted Danson. Actress Toni Collette — who never disappoints — plays Leslie, the landlady/romantic interest of Frank’s who tries to save his store. The two have a bit of a complicated relationship and you can’t quite tell if Leslie is more or less attracted to the idea of being involved with Frank because of what his store means to her as opposed to who Frank as a person means to her.
Sam’s mother was killed in an accident when she was a child. Her mother was also in a band with her father Frank. Some of the anguish and resentment that Sam herself feels towards music at times, does stem from the loss of her mother. However, this doesn’t stop her from making sweet music with her dad with the title track “Heart Beats Loud” which Frank secretly uploaded on Spotify without Sam’s knowledge. The name of their band is called “Not A Band” which adds even more irony to this dramedy. There’s a cute and humorous moment in a pastry shop when Frank hears his song playing on an Indie Spotify Mix through the speakers. Sam later realizes that her dad is onto something here and agrees to create more music for him, including a romantic ballad dedicated to her girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane). As the romance brews between Sam and Rose, they each slowly realize that they inevitably will be apart as Sam departs for college.
Clemons gives a stellar performance as both actor and singer in this film with her heavenly vocals. In her interview with BGN last year, Clemons gave us some insight into her work on Flatliners and some intel on the impending Warner Bros film Flashpoint. It is pretty clear that she has come a long way since the Rick Famuyiwa film Dope and her star continues to rise.
Hearts Beat Loud is directed by Brett Haley (The Hero, I’ll See You In My Dreams) and original songs and music are by Keegan DeWitt. The music of Hearts Beat Loud had a nostalgic 80’s sync pop beat, and although this was a contemporary story, the ambiance made sense given the retro backdrop of the record store and the Brooklyn hipster vibe throughout the movie. There were moments where this film, in my opinion, was reminiscent of various scenes from the John Hughes dramedy Pretty In Pink.
Offerman and Clemons have great chemistry and play pretty well off each other and it was refreshing to see a story told from the perspective of a blended family. Hearts Beat Loud steals your heart, makes it beat faster and you’ll love this story out loud.
The film premieres in theaters June 8th.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.