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Hearts Beat Loud

“What came first – the music or the misery?”

Marauding in its emptiness, the latest installment from Brett Haley is the perfect mood piece for people looking to get in the mood for ennui. I honestly caught myself distracted by the curtains in the theatre than the warm work of watching this personified writing fiasco peddling Hollywood’s latest collaborated efforts with critics to waste our time.

Hearts Beat Loud is the story of a failing father (Nick Offerman) whose career in music leaves him running a record store and, on the good days, making bottom shelf electronic pop-records with his daughter (Kiersey Clemons), that magically manifest before a live audience. It is a film that copies better projects like High Fidelity, Once, and Begin Again in hopes that the audience, with open minds and hearts trained to showcase optimism, will overlook its hardscrabble writing and dull storytelling.

Nothing more annoying than trying to turn Ron Swanson into a “cool dad” with “cool anecdotes” and a dream that his daughter will skip college in order to make tracks for Spotify playlists so she too can work at a bar one day. Put HBL side by side with the writing and acting from Lady Bird and the stark contrast will make you celebrate when the theatre screen temporarily goes black in front of the actress and director (and yes, this really happened to me, in fact 4X at another screening—Plaza Theatre is trash). It’s too early to tell but I suspect that Clemons has found her niche in making “Made For RedBox” frat-flick, instead of anything showcasing her acting.  

This film was undoubtedly below average, and yet, it remains at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (with only 14 reviews so this should drop hopefully into the 70s) with stellar reviews from the gallery:

A 9/10 from Yasmin Kleinbart (Young Folks), praising Clemons for her “immense talent,” which must have appeared after the credits.

An A- from Matthew Passantino (Film Threat), who also inflated A Quiet Place (our review) and thinks that Argo was better than 12 Years a Slave.

And my favorite, Danielle Solzman (Cultured Vultures), who called the film a “musical masterpiece.” I don’t know where that puts The Sound of Music or The King and I, but I doubt those types of cross-comparisons will keep her up at night.

Perhaps nowhere did the movie demonstrate its utter lack of creativity more than at the end when its characters discuss the biggest, mainstream track from Animal Collective as though they’ve discovered some insight hipster knowledge possessed by only the true connoisseurs of South by Southwest playlists. This is exactly the type of film that receives inflated reviews when the audience should have booed the director out of the theatre—I would of gladly joined in if I could have heard myself over the deafening applause.


DISCLAIMER: Review made have been skewed by the Plaza Theatre projector going out towards the end of the film.

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