Hearts Beat Loud (4 stars)

Hearts Beat Loud

credit: Jon Pak

EIFF 2018: A unique father-daughter bond is at the centre of this lovable comedy drama

'When life hands you conundrums, you turn them into art,' Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) advises his daughter Sam, as she agonises over her future with her new girlfriend. The fourth film from director Brett Haley, who co-writes with Marc Basch, finds a satisfying rhythm by combining feel-good vibes with crabby comedy and family strife.

Kiersey Clemons dazzles as Sam, a studious and serious teenager raised in the small town of Red Hook, New York by her former musician father Frank, who never tasted the success he dreamt of and runs a record shop that's about to go under. Sam throws more fuel on Frank's existential fire as she prepares to head to UCLA to study medicine, despite having evident talent as a musician herself. Further complicating matters is the fact that Sam has just entered into an exciting relationship with local artist Rose (American Honey's Sasha Lane).

If things between Sam and Frank are sometimes testy, their ability to share and explore their emotions through song gives them a unique bond. When their electro-infused jam sessions evolve into a more formal partnership, the music they create together is beautiful but, despite Frank's big-kid excitement, the soon-to-depart Sam resists. Having dedicated herself to her own conventional yet realisable dream, she's realistic about their slim prospects of musical success and not terribly enthused about being in a band with her dad.

Offerman delivers a lovable twist on his curmudgeonly persona, while Ted Danson pops up as his wise but wasted bartender buddy, Toni Collette is Frank's landlady / love interest and Blythe Danner completes the strong supporting cast as Sam's grandmother – a former nightclub singer turned scatty shoplifter. But it's Clemons who is the subtle and striking star of this show, conveying inner turmoil with the most delicate of touches.

Buoyed by a stirring and infectious pop-rock soundtrack, there's a sweetness and sincerity here which might just bring a tear to your eye. Although Hearts Beat Loud boasts its share of uplifting moments, it's a film that manages to keep one foot rooted firmly in reality.

Screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018. Selected release from Fri 3 Aug.

Hearts Beat Loud

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 37min
  • Directed by: Brett Haley
  • Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Toni Collette
  • UK release: 3 August 2018

Sam (Clemons) is a studios teenager raised by her former musician father Frank (Offerman), and as she prepares to study medicine, she has doubts about her future. Feel-good vibes combine with crabby comedy and family strife; Offerman is lovable but Clemons is the star, with a subtle and striking performance