From the opening shot, Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud conveys its story’s moral ambiguities. Audiences sees Nick Offerman’s trademark cantankerous face surrounded by the innate quirkiness of a Brooklyn record store. What ensues is the most unconventional stage dad film. That involves his ambiguous main character Frank. Frank and his queer daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) perform and write a song. He posts said song on Spotify behind her back. He wants their non-band to go further.
In Frank’s defense, 49% of Sam wants to be a musician too. The other 51% of her wants to be a doctor. A subplot also beautifully connects the dots as to why she wants that profession. Instead of studying to pass her pre-med classes, she dicks around and watches YouTube vidoes of other independent musicians performing. Haley’s film explores the impossible nature of the dreams Frank and Sam have. Both argue eventually about what’s best for her.
There’s also the way Frank deals with closing the record store. That affects both Sam and his landlady Leslie (Toni Collette). Both adults are aware of how unprofitable that business decision is. There’s also a part of both of them that want the store to continue. Feeling bad, she takes him to dinner, turning into a three location date. One of these locations involves Collette slaying indie-oke in a year where she also does horror.
The movie is so open to the unsympathetic yet redeemable parts of the male psyche. Frank pushes music on Sam and he doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings towards Leslie. He’s a man child, yes, yet this film is one about the beautiful art of compromise. Supporting characters also make this film whole, like Blythe Danner who plays Frank’s ex-singer mother who also has dementia. The script here offers so much love.