HomeMoviesHearts Beat Loud: A Slice of Cinematic Comfort Food

Hearts Beat Loud: A Slice of Cinematic Comfort Food

Heart Beats Loud
Photo Credit: Gunpowder & Sky

If silly action blockbusters are “popcorn movies,” and thematically intense Oscar bait is “food for thought,” then “comfort-food movies” must exist somewhere in-between. They aren’t necessarily the smartest movies, nor are they dumb, even as they avoid exploring any territory too taxing or troubling. A movie like Hearts Beat Loud perfectly embodies this specific sub-genre of culinary cinema. It’s lightweight, almost to the point of being virtually free of conflict. But it goes down easy, and entertains thoroughly from beginning to end.

This comfort food film centers on Frank (Nick Offerman) and Sam (Kiersey Clemons), a father/daughter pair that bond over their shared love of music. Frank spends his days working in a failing record store, dreaming of the career as a musician he never had. Sam, meanwhile, prepares to move cross-country for school, while writing lyrics about a girl she has a crush on (Sasha Lane). One day, the two record a song during one of their stress-relieving “jam sessions,” which Frank secretly uploads to Spotify, only for the single to become a minor hit and gain attention from local clubs and record companies. Suddenly, questions arise. Could Frank have his chance in the spotlight? Should Sam postpone school to help her dad achieve his dreams? Where do they go from here?

The unique thing about Hearts Beat Loud is that these questions never particularly lead to any conflict. Yes, characters fight, and there is some mild suspense as they contemplate choices that could alter the rest of their lives. But, it is overwhelmingly clear that these characters will be okay no matter what they decide to do. In fact, one scene literally ends with a character shrugging off the problem at hand, deciding that everything will work out in the end. The film tap-dances around serious stakes and consequences to an almost comedic degree, and the lack of drama can feel frustrating, especially at the start of the film where every character just seems so damn nice. But, eventually, the film finds its groove and becomes an entertaining, if decidedly light, affair.

Half the reason the film works as well as it does is the ensemble, all of whom bring life to their rather one-note characters. Nick Offerman is just impossibly sweet and lovable, while Clemons does much of the dramatic heavy lifting in the film’s few serious moments. The two of them also have remarkable father/daughter chemistry, and make a believable musical duo. But there are also a number of strong supporting performances: Blythe Danner delivers a captivating monologue as Frank’s mother, while Toni Collette is as reliable as ever when she turns up as Frank’s landlord and potential love interest.

But what good is a film about music if the songs aren’t good? That’s ultimately where the film’s success lives or dies. Luckily, Keegan DeWitt has composed some catchy, and believable alt-rock songs to populate the soundtrack, and make Frank and Sam’s minor success as an indie duo believable. The titular song is a real ear-worm, and the scene where the pair first perform it is a truly magical moment, instantly elevating the film’s quality with every new note. But the true standout on the soundtrack is “Blink (One Million Miles),” a love song that Sam performs for her girlfriend in the movie’s final moments. It’s a beautiful number, and a song that feels like it’d be a hit if released by an actual recording artist.

Your tolerance for Hearts Beat Loud will largely depend on how sweet you like your movies to be. This is not a suspenseful movie, nor is it a particularly emotional one. It’s, quite simply, a nice movie populated with likable characters, and very few genuine problems. There aren’t any surprises along the way, but there are a lot of fun musical numbers, decent jokes, and an excessive amount of charm from all involved. Something this pure is a rare thing at the movies today – or even outside the theater, in everyday life. Unless you’re missing a sweet tooth, don’t skip this one.

Overall rating: 6 ouf ot 10.

Heart Beats Loud is currently playing in select theaters across the country.

Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor is the TV editor at The Pop Break, along with being one of the site's awards show experts. When he's not at the nearest movie theater, he can be found bingeing the latest Netflix series, listening to synth pop, or updating his Oscar predictions. A Rutgers grad, he also works in academic publishing. Follow him on Twitter @MattNotMatthew1.

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