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REVIEW: Hearts Beat Loud

By Candace Nicholson

originally published: 05/26/2018

REVIEW: Hearts Beat Loud

The phrase “feel-good movie” tends to get an unfair rep these days. But Brett Haley and Marc Basch’s Hearts Beat Loud is certainly not to blame for that. This make-believe tale of a father and daughter on the cusp of an empty nest transition has more sincerity and virtue than most films submitted for Oscar nods each year, and a lot of that is due to the script, the tone and the performances of its perfectly complementary cast.

This is not the tearjerker you are looking for, but it is the film that will warm your air conditioned-chilled heart this summer as, little by little, you learn what makes this quirky parent-child duo work in their tiny Brooklyn microcosm of Red Hook. We begin our story in a last-on-the-vine record store owned by our bearded padre, Frank Fisher, played by Nick Offerman. He’s a no-nonsense man who’s quick with a cheeky joke and a sly smile, living and breathing the music he sells while fondly remembering his early career as a musician and all the joy it brought him. 

Frank -- albeit good-spirited -- is coping with a record shop in decline, an aging mother who enjoys exercising her shoplifting skills, and a smart-as-a-whip teenage daughter heading to UCLA come fall. Needless to say, he’s a man with a lot on his mind. But Frank isn’t the only soul questioning what the future may bring. His offspring, Sam Fisher, played by the always delightful Kiersey Clemons, may act like she has it all figured out, but like many teens, it’s a carefully crafted facade. Add in a blossoming “Where do we go from here?” romance with her girlfriend, and this kid has a full plate too.

Wait, is this an angst-ridden dual coming-of-age journey posing as a musical indie flick? Rest assured, it is not. … Well, maybe it is. But only in the best of ways. Sure, father and daughter butt heads over her practical aspirations and his dreams deferred, but their common ground is found in the music and with the music. And in its own special way, that common ground is the ballast they both need to weather this storm. 

The film not only features original music by Keegan DeWitt and Jeremy Bullock, who worked with director Haley and writer Basch on their other indie darling, The Hero, but it also sports a supporting cast that reminds you there are no small parts. In addition to Blythe Danner’s turn as Frank’s offbeat, yet incredibly astute mother, we’re treated to Ted Danson as Frank’s friend/barkeep confidant who lucks out with the best lines in the film. Or was it luck at all? Not to be outdone, we’re also joined by newcomer Sasha Lane and powerhouse of the stage and screen Toni Collette as the budding love interests of our daughter and father team, respectively.



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Hearts Beat Loud may not be flawless -- it treads a little close to sentimentality at times, and drags a wee bit in the fourth act -- but it is a bittersweet film that is never bitter. It could choose to languish in the message of our small business neighborhood institutions closing their doors faster than we can blink, but instead, it makes a point to assert that Frank is closing up shop because he simply doesn’t want to sell records anymore. It could choose to treat the reveal of Sam’s mother’s fate with all the melodrama such a moment could command, but instead, it treats the revelation in an understated, yet respectful manner of both the character and the audience’s ability to grasp the outcome fully without exposition. 

For those who don’t appreciate the singer-songwriter genre or the indie music scene, Hearts Beat Loud may not strike a chord. But for music lovers of any genre, the songs in the film are a cherry on top of the story sundae. They help inject purpose in our characters’ behaviors, exposing them emotionally, while at the same time grounding the film with a realistic musical journey. Plus there’s a cameo that gives the film its own moment of cool cred. 

Hearts Beat Loud was written specifically for Nick Offerman, and he carries the film fearlessly. The audience walks away wondering what took Hollywood so long to see the unique strength and unvarnished insight Offerman brings to the table. So if you’re searching for a “feel-good movie” this Father’s Day, Hearts Beat Loud will remind you why that label isn’t the kiss of death, but is instead a breath of fresh air.

Hearts Beat Loud was screened at the 2018 Montclair Film Festival, which took place April 26-May 6, 2018.  For more information on the festival visit www.montclairfilm.org




Candace Nicholson is a freelance writer, editor and blogger covering arts & culture, small business and community. When she’s not pitching magazines, editing creative genius or penning blog posts, she’s a regular contributor to LAFRA’s Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. Visit her blog at www.incandescere.com





2018 International Film Festival Brings 4 Award Winning Foreign Films To Vineland
(VINELAND, NJ) -- Enjoy four highly-acclaimed award-winning recent foreign films representing diverse cultures at the 2018 International Film Festival, starting Monday, November 26, at the Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville, NJ. The four films—A Fantastic Woman, The Interpreter, 1945, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me—will introduce the theatergoer to the universality of themes that are common to Jewish and other international themes. They are representative of the finest of today’s international cinematographic art.
John T. LaBarbera Presents Charlie Chaplin's “The Immigrant” with New Original Score
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Performer, composer, and author John T. LaBarbera performs his original score for Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck on October 28 at 4:00pm. LaBarbera’s score creates an emotional atmosphere through the melodic themes that are reminiscent of the Italian immigrant music published during the early 20th century. Chaplin’s 1917 comedy about his own experiences as an immigrant draws on parallels of the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley which inform LaBarbera’s composition, highlighting the comedic and romantic aspects of the film through ragtime style, slapstick references, and melodic leitmotif that adorn the film’s narrative.
NJSO presents Star Wars: A New Hope in concert on Thanksgiving weekend
(NEWARK, NJ) --The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents screenings of the complete film Star Wars: A New Hope with Oscar-winning composer John Williams’ musical scores performed live on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23–25. Performances take place in Red Bank, Newark, and New Brunswick.
East Lynne Theater Company presents "Poe" and "Dr. Jekyll"
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company presents two events in time for Halloween: "Poe by Candlelight" on Saturday, October 20 at 8:00pm and the classic silent thriller, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," accompanied by Wayne Zimmerman on the organ, on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30pm, both at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street in Cape May, where the theater is in residence.
Basie Center Celebrates Dia De Los Muertos With "Coco" Benefit Screening And Community Ofrenda
(RED BANK, NJ) -- The nonprofit Count Basie Center for the Arts will present a big-screen showing of Disney’s Coco as part of its annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos, sponsored by Basie’s partner program Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. The screening, which takes place on Saturday, November 3 at 11:00am, will also serve as a fundraiser for the Red Bank Borough School District, which will receive half of all tickets sold.


REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Baba Babee Skazala
Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  
NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  
REVIEW: "Black 47"
In a year that has offered cinemagoers culturally distinctive takes on the western genre from countries as disparate as Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts) and South Africa (Five Fingers for Marseille), it’s no surprise to find Irish cinema adopting the tropes of that most traditionally American of genres.
Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!






Event calendar
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018


MUSIC

DON FELDER @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The Tenors: Fan Favorites Tour @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

An Evening with Emily Saliers @ Pollak Theatre, West Long Branch - 7:30pm


THEATRE

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

The Color Purple @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 7:30pm

Auditions: A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 7:00pm







DANCE

So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018 @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:00pm

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