Blog Directory CineVerse: Rhythm in your bloodstream

Rhythm in your bloodstream

Monday, May 24, 2021

You don’t need a stethoscope to know that the cardiac muscle can pump up the volume when pushed hard. And the same is true of our emotional core, as evidenced in a feel-good film like Hearts Beat Loud, which will get your feelings flowing and your toe tapping. The CineVerse faithful performed a cinematic cardiogram when we explored this movie last week (listen to a group discussion of this picture by clicking here), arriving at these observations:

What about this film left an impression on you, good or bad?

  • The cast is impressive for a small independent feature, boasting Toni Collette, Ted Danson, and Blythe Danner in supporting roles. Nick Offerman as Frank and Kiersey Clemons as Sam are perfectly cast as the main players.
  • It’s nice to see character and personality diversity in a romantic comedy, as evidenced by the personage of Sam, who is both multiethnic and lesbian. It’s also a relief to see that these two traits don’t have to become super-serious subplots.
  • The actual songs written for the picture and performed by the actors are all, surprisingly, good, with the titular tune standing out as particularly well-crafted and memorable.
  • The filmmakers don’t linger excessively on manipulative emotional beats; a different director may have played the maudlin, cloying, or sentimental notes too long or too emphatically, for example. This isn’t the most inspirational movie you’ve ever seen, but it’s also not the most melancholy or mushy, either.
  • As a testament to its streamlined writing, the characters don’t engage in excessive dialogue, superfluous exposition, or predictable patterns. For instance, we aren’t told upfront that Sam’s mother is dead, or how she died; we learn it contextually and organically.

Themes at play

  • Turning life’s conundrums into art.
  • The connective and bonding power of music, performance, and art, as we see demonstrated by the record store gig, the karaoke singing, and the spontaneous exuberance felt when writing and rehearsing songs.
  • Role reversals: Ironically, Sam seems more mature, resolute, and self-secure than her father Frank.
  • Growing up while refusing to grow old. Frank is preparing to send his daughter off to college, suggesting that it’s time for her to mature into adulthood and responsibility, and yet it’s Frank who needs to do the same. By collaborating artistically and indulging their love for music together, Frank and Sam can remain young at heart and connected.
  • Multi-generational challenges and mid-life crises. Frank’s mother is becoming more dependent on him, while his daughter is proving to be more independent. Frank yearns for the opposite: Sam needing him more and his mother needing him less.
  • Change is inevitable, and it can be surprisingly good and beneficial. Frank and Sam are each at a crossroads, having to decide their respective futures. What they choose to do will have positive and negative consequences.
  • Moving on without forgetting the past. Frank must learn to let go of his musical ambitions and forge a different future for himself—one that may involve less music playing and promoting. But he may be able to salvage the relationship with Leslie, his landlord, in his next act. And Sam decides to go to UCLA and study medicine instead of staying in Red Hook and going on tour with her father; but the last scene shows that she has not surrendered some of her musical dreams.
  • “Let’s put on a show,” which is a theme that goes back to the early days of the cinema.
  • Trying to understand matters of the heart—both literally and figuratively. The film opens with Sam learning about the anatomy and function of the heart organ, which underscores her passion for wanting to become a doctor, and it continues with her exploring emotional depths and layers of the heart with her girlfriend and father.

Similar works

  • High Fidelity
  • Empire Records
  • Begin Again
  • Like Father
  • One More Time

Other films by Brett Haley

  • The New Year
  • I’ll See You in My Dreams
  • The Hero
  • All the Bright Places
  • All Together Now

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