Hearts Beat Loud review

Sabrina Bohn, Deputy Managing EIC

Life can be a bit depressing at times, meaning many people just want to escape into another life for a few hours. With its feel-good vibe and engaging characters, “Hearts Beat Loud” is the perfect movie if you want to escape and remember the good parts of life.

The musical film bases around Sam and her single father, played by Nick Offerman, the summer before she leaves their hometown of Brooklyn and heads across the country to study medicine at UCLA. Sam’s mother, who had the same interest in music as her father, passed away in a bike accident when Sam was a kid, leaving Frank to raise her. With Sam studying hard for a summer class and Frank dealing with the inevitable closing of the record store he’s owned for 17 years, Frank tries to lift the mood by convincing Sam to record a song with him. As the song gains popularity on Spotify, Sam must decide if she still wants to leave her father and budding musical career to study at UCLA.

The soundtrack is an integral and intrinsic part of this movie, almost literally giving the film a beating heart. Along with the eclectic indie played in the background during certain scenes, Frank and Sam’s own music adds to the movie’s feel-good vibe. The excitement that Sam and Frank feel as they write their first song bleeds through the screen as they add more and more instruments to accompany Sam’s strong vocals. Their first concert is a spur of the moment decision; set in their home-y record store the night before the store closes for good, the band  (aptly called “We’re Not A Band”) performs their songs with raw emotion. The title song especially enlivens the film with its contagious upbeat energy and Sam’s vibrant performance.

Another facet of the film is the love life of both Sam and Frank, with Frank’s flirty relationship with his landlady and Sam’s budding romance with a quirky art student. Leslie, Frank’s landlady, becomes an important character through pushing Frank to follow his heart despite the closing of his beloved record store, while also allowing him to further move forward from his wife’s death. Leslie helps dissolve Frank’s usual aloofness and guides him as his life changes rapidly, creating heartwarming character development.

Although Frank’s relationship is an essential element, one of my favorite parts of the film is the relationship between Sam and Rose, the art student. I loved how easily an LGBT relationship between two women of color was inserted into the film. It was revolutionary in the way that it was so unrevolutionary; Sam and Rose had a normal teenage relationship, just like any straight couple would in a typical indie movie like this. Although the relationship wasn’t the main focus of the movie, it added to Sam’s character and furthers the turmoil she feels about leaving New York. In fact, another song Sam wrote, Blink (One Million Miles), bases around this aspect of Sam and Rose’s relationship, making the heartbreak these two feel so much more tangible.

Similar to how Leslie helped Frank with his wife’s death, Rose also gives Sam the courage to overcome her fears of learning to ride a bike due to the manner of her mother’s death. These relationships, although it sounds cheesy, illustrate how romantic love can both hinder and help you when dealing with certain life decisions.

The slight cheesiness of the relationships lent itself to the sappy territory the film occasionally strayed into, which is one of my only criticisms. However, considering I am a hopeless romantic, this wasn’t a huge problem for me. Frank, with his drool yet silly ‘dad’ humor, helped break through this sappiness. I couldn’t help but see Offerman’s infamous character from Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson, in Frank due to his often hilariously monotone voice. Despite the comparison, Offerman breaks free of his former character with Frank’s easy father-daughter banter and carefree attitude in the film. Truthfully, going into this movie, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the lightheartedness of the film, but it turned out to be one of my favorite aspects. Unlike other movies that I love, “Hearts Beat Loud” didn’t offer a mindblowing social commentary on moral issues; instead, the movie offered relatable and heartwarming characters, realistic situations and universal feelings such as heartbreak and tragedy.

Another plot point that breaks the mold of a typical sappy film is that Sam and Frank’s band does not become an instant success. Facing the realities of life, Sam continuously deliberates between leaving for UCLA or staying and pursuing music with Frank. Although Frank had expressed his desire for Sam to stay earlier, by the end of the film, he gives her the reins to decide what’s best for her life. This shows major development in Sam and Frank’s relationship; Frank is no longer projecting his dreams onto her, and Sam finds the courage to make her decision. “Hearts Beat Loud,” despite its sometimes mawkish emotions, is a fun and inspiring movie with the added charm of catchy and energetic music. So, if you’re looking to step into a world with inspiring characters and just enough heartbreak to make it real, this is the perfect film to help you escape.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Hearts Beat Loud” an 8/10.