Director Brett Haley's new film Hearts Beat Loud is something of a Trojan Horse. The first scenes give every indication that we're going to see a lackluster update of High Fidelity. The main character, this time named Frank (Nick Offerman), like Fidelity's Rob, owns a record store and lectures women about music as if they don't have opinions — or ears — of their own. But High Fidelity had no women as interesting as Frank's daughter Sam (a radiant Kiersey Clemons), who, having grown up with a financially struggling parent (Frank's store is on its last legs) has apparently decided, "Fuck that shit." She's about to go to UCLA as a premed student.
Before Sam leaves, Frank convinces her to record a song with him (he used to be in an indie band, of course). He explains, "It's time to put away childish things, like homework and med school." They collaborate on an eminently forgettable tune: Those wishing for songs that sound like they were written by indie musicians for indie musicians, not actors who can sing and maybe play an instrument, should see Once instead.
The real reason to see this is Kiersey Clemons' Sam and her romance with aspiring artist Rose (Sasha Lane). The relationship alternates between sweet and scorching (though we never see the couple do any more than kiss, fully clothed) and is the fount of the love songs Sam writes for the band she and her father form. I couldn't help, in spite of the sometimes very clunky script, breaking into a smile every time Sam and Rose have a scene together, even a corny bike-riding one.
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