Crowd-pleasing, sweet films can often feel like they lack substance. Films about bands can often rely on camera trickery to get around their stars lack of musical talents. Luckily Brett Haley's Hearts Beat Loud is not guilty of either of these things. The film marks the most assured effort from Haley after I'll See You In My Dreams and The Hero as he explores how people can turn life's problems into art.
The art here is some catchy indie pop music that is played and sung by the film's two charming leads, Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons. They play father and daughter who are facing lots of change when the film opens. Frank is the owner of a failing record store that may be on its way out of the neighborhood as his daughter Sam is getting ready to go off to college in hopes of studying pre-med. They both have challenging days when Frank suggests they have a jam session. Out of that session of musical experimentation comes the film's central track, "Hearts Beat Loud."
Frank has a blast working on the song over several days with his daughter. He knows he may be losing her and his business and embraces the chance to create something. When the song is done he asks his daughter what their name should be. "We are not a band," she responds and he runs with it. Soon their song begins to gain some attention on Spotify and We Are Not a Band becomes a legit band. Except that Sam is not interested in pursuing music. Her mind is focused on med school and the last few weeks with her girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane). Frank is too excited to not fight her on this.
The central father/daughter relationship is not breaking any new ground. We have seen relationships before where the child acts more like the parent. Haley though pulls such a sincere chemistry between Offerman and Clemons that it makes their relationship truly memorable. They clearly love each other and respect each other. Seeing them create together will put a smile on even the biggest curmudgeon. Few films really capture artistic expression in the moment but Haley succeeds in more than one scene. He also wisely avoids a pat ending that tries to fix all of the problems these two are facing. While the film's pace isn't perfect and a few side characters are underwritten, Hearts Beat Loud is a joyous film that will please any crowd.