Hearts Beat Loud review: Very likeable, low-key and laid-back comedy-drama

Park Circus
Park Circus

Brett Haley, 95 mins, starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner

Hearts Beat Loud is a very likeable, low key and laid back comedy-drama which takes its tone from its main character, the Brooklyn record shop manager Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman.) Frank is middle-aged, his dreams of glory as a rock musician long behind him. His store is doing little business but he is phlegmatic and ironic in the face of failure.

Frank is a single dad and his happiest moments come during “jam sesh time” with his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons.) She’s a songwriter, singer and keyboardist. He’s the guitarist. They make music together in the back room. Sam, though, is about to head across country to UCLA to study medicine on a scholarship.

Frank also gets on very well with the record store’s flamboyant landlady (Toni Collette), who shares his taste for 70s rock and fine alcohol. Both are too coy to admit to any attraction to one another, although they clearly feel it. His other main ally is the sometimes stoned bar owner, Dave (Ted Danson returning to his Cheers roots).

Remarkably little happens here plot-wise. Frank uploads a song he and Sam have recorded to Spotify where, to his amazement, it finds an audience. Sam falls in love with Rose (Sasha Lane), who teaches her how to ride a bicycle. Frank’s elderly but still glamorous mother (Blythe Danner) gets into trouble for shoplifting.

Frank decides that he needs to close the record shop. Frank and Sam’s band, called “We are not a Band,” plays its first (and perhaps last) live show.

At times, it’s as if we are watching a humdrum episode of a soap opera rather than a feature-length drama. The dialogue isn’t especially witty. The music that Frank and Sam play is catchy but derivative. Dramatic tension may be in short supply but Hearts Beat Loud makes very pleasurable viewing precisely because it is so mellow and its very genial protagonists are so self-effacing.

Director Brett Haley, who co-wrote the screenplay, has an eye for tell-tale looks and gestures, tiny, seemingly throwaway moments which are expressive of the deeper feelings the characters have for one another. Offerman is a dryly comic screen presence as the father while Clemons is warm and funny as his impulsive but very loyal daughter.

Hearts Beat Loud hits UK cinemas 3 August.