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MOVIE REVIEW Hearts Beat Loud
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Director: Brett Haley

Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons and Ted Danson. Time: 96 minutes. Currently in theaters

In Hearts Beat Loud, actress Kiersey Clemons stars as medical student Sam Fisher—who receives guidance from her father Frank, played by Nick Offerman, to form a band together called We're Not a Band. You can't be more artsy with a name like that.

He owns a record store and it's High Fidelity for a new generation without as much dry humor, although there is a good amount of sarcasm along the way. Vinyl is big again in this movie and in real life, and look for shout-outs to indie bands like Sleater-Kinney and Animal Collective along the way. Wilco's Jeff Tweety even shops at Frank's store, so why can't the struggling widower raise the prices and make some more money?

There's one moment that completely reminded me of working at the now-defunct Chicago record store Second Hand Tunes—and that is when Frank is rude to a customer and there's a confrontation. If I had a dollar for every time that happened, I would have bought that business myself years ago.

Toni Collette, as Leslie, wants to add a coffee bar to improve Frank's place and money situation, but he's not having it. After seeing Collette in horror film Hereditary recently, this is a much saner and likable character for her to portray. She has an awkward relationship with Frank as his landlord and friend. Are they possibly dating? Depends on the situation and like many relationships these days it is hard to exactly define. It's complicated so time will tell how it will grow in the future.

As for the LGBT element, Sam gains a girlfriend more easily and soon finds herself in a sweet supportive relationship. The girlfriend, Rose, even sells merchandise for her at live shows. I think we all wish we had a cheerleader sitting on the sidelines like this or maybe a dad that would look at us in the same way. Rose encourages Sam to be brave and it pays off quickly, with lyrics forming into a song as an homage. By the way, Clemons and Offerman perform the songs themselves, giving it all much-needed realism and authenticity.

Blythe Danner and Ted Danson play small roles, but obviously believe in a worthy project like this while having a few nice theatrical moments.

Writer/director Brett Haley aimed to create a musical grounded in reality and the story is told through song. It succeeds usually and avoids too much corny dialogue. For example, Offerman says, "When life hands you conundrums, turn them into art."

The story may seem slow but Hearts Beat Loud takes its time to convey a message with a gentle, even pace. The cast, especially Clemons, grounds the drama and comedy in reality.

Father-daughter roles are reversed, as Sam is the responsible one and wants to study in college to be a doctor and Frank wants to make a band together. This is the only major conflict to happen, as it is obvious they are talented and could have a strong possible future together as a band.

This is a flick for those movie-watchers who liked John Carney's Once and the overlooked Begin Again. The crowd the movie aims for will most likely enjoy the time spent with the Fisher Family.

Should Sam become a dropout and follow her dad's dreams? Only time will tell if that would be a wise decision as Hearts Beat Loud plays on in several local venues, including ArcLight Chicago, Landmark Century Centre Cinema and Century 12 Evanston.

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