At a pivotal point in this film about a father-daughter duo, the daughter asks the father to grow up, putting his ambitious yet impractical self aside to think about their future. This struck me as a rather unusual plot point in this largely subversive musical-comedy-drama. You see, more often than not, when we encounter a film about musicians and artists, we see young, optimistic artists, with a penchant to thrive in the music industry, only dissuaded by the cynicism of the elders around them. These stories then become either about tragically failed careers or about success against all odds.
But “Hearts Beat Loud” chooses to tread a different line, telling a typical tale rather originally. In a quaint corner of Brooklyn, Frank Fisher, a record store owner is about to close his business. His daughter, Sam, is about to join pre-med school. Their evenings involve jamming with each other in their apartment, making random music. At first, both are pragmatic, treating music as nothing more than a past time, a way to de-stress after a long day.
But when his daughter records a sample of an inspiring original song, Frank sees a spark in her, urging her to complete the recording. He even sneaks it onto Spotify without her knowledge. When it starts garnering hits and the interest of record labels, he starts aspiring big - a full album contract, a tour, the works. But the daughter rejects his propositions, adamant about staying grounded. She doesn’t think there is a career in music for her, choosing instead to focus on med school.
I guess it is an odd reality of the complex socio-politico-economics of our times - where the younger generation is increasingly cynical of their possibilities in life. Big dreams are always hard to chase, let alone when cynicism and hesitation prevail. But sometimes, you might have to play the long game - keeping the belly’s fire intact for years, giving up smaller dreams, and waiting for the right window to open. And that, perhaps, not only requires an understanding of optimism and realism, but also needs a strange amalgamation of the two.
“Hearts Beat Loud” is about these lofty life musings. But, in yet another subversive trait of the film, it doesn’t really sermonize about them. It trusts its characters to do the talking and lets them get on with their lives the way they would sans any unrealistic cinematic interventions. This is thanks to un-compromised writing by Marc Basch and Brett Haley (who also directed the film in the same spirit). Their vision for the film gets appropriate support from a string of strong actors, all very capable of giving valid depth to simple characters - Toni Colette, Ted Danson, and Blythe Danner. They are all led humbly by Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, and peppy, atmospheric music by Keegan DeWitt.
One of the promo posters for the film touts it as the “feel good movie of the year”. That might be true, but despite its friendly facade and calm demeanor, this movie is also about the perseverance to keep at it while bowing down to life’s trivial demands and the ensuing sacrifices. Most of all, this film is about people never giving up on their dreams.
"Hearts Beat Loud" is now streaming on Hulu.
P.S. - There is also a beautiful queer love story in the middle of this setting, involving a rather splendid Sasha Lane. The fact that the movie doesn’t browbeat about it, but sneaks it in as a heart-warming plot point is the normalization of diversity and representation that we need more in today’s cinema.
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