The disconnect between parental aspirations and offspring aspirations forms a big part of the story of Hearts Beat Loud, the new movie from writer/director Brett Haley. Nick Offerman plays Frank Fisher, the owner of a local record store and father of daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons), who’s just about to go off to college. He’s reluctant to see her go but she’s also anxious, as kids are, to break free and go out and form her own identity.
Frank, a devoted music lover, has long harbored notions of he and his daughter starting their own band. When they upload one of their regular musical collaborations to the web it takes off and becomes a hit after being added to some popular playlists. That unexpected popularity makes Sam think there could be something to explore after all, even as she still wants to get away and live her own life for a while.
That the story is primarily about music is the main message of the poster. Clemons and Offerman are shown each playing a different instrument, clearly having a good time jamming together. The background for that is a shelf of LP spines that are all generic, not for anything in particular, but which help convey that we’re deep in music nerd territory here. That’s reinforced by the copy “Music runs in the family.”
Dads are so embarrassing and annoying, we’re reminded as the trailer opens and we see Frank trying to convince Sam that it’s time to make some music instead of continuing to study so she can get into med school. It’s clear their lives revolve around music as they not only make it together but he owns a record store that is about to go under. He encourages Sam to keep writing songs and start a band with him, which she’s reluctant to do until one song they created becomes a streaming hit. She still wants to go to college and all that but he wants to give music a real try, leading to tension but also bonding between the two.
It’s hard to feel anything other than joy at the light, effortless performances Offerman and Clemons seem to be offering here as well as their chemistry together. That’s the spark that makes the story sizzle in the trailer, watching them play off each other and act out the dynamic between father and daughter that’s changing as each one tries to seize a moment they feel is uniquely theirs. It looks like a delight.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website has all the usual information but not much more. You can get tickets, view the trailer, read a synopsis, check out some stills and so on. The front page has links to the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen or can find. There’s likely to be some geo-targeted online advertising done around the debut in NYC and LA, though, that might expand as the movie goes wider.
Media and Publicity
The film was often called out as being one of the most-anticipated of the Sundance Film Festival, in part because director Brett Haley has become a frequent favorite there in the last few years. Offerman and the rest of the cast spoke frequently while they were there about the story and why they joined the project and the movie was soon snapped up by Gunpowder & Sky. After that it was also screened at the SXSW Film Festival.
Unfortunately there hasn’t been much of a publicity push since then, and the few times there were appearances by the cast they were usually asked about other projects or general industry topics. I’m hoping it’s just a case of the publicity coming a bit later, maybe after the movie is already in limited release.
You really can’t beat the shaggy charm the movie is being sold as having. It’s great to see Offerman playing the kind of regular, dorky but still cool dad that allows him to stretch a little. And Clemons looks wonderful as his daughter that loves him dearly but would also like to not be in his shadow for a while. There’s a lot to the movie that we’re not seeing, of course, but what’s shown here reinforces the positive buzz that accompanied its Sundance debut and provides a solid case for audiences who might need a break from big budget action movies to seek it out.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.