Director Brett Haley discusses Hearts Beat Loud and the joy of nice movies about kind people.
Director Brett Haley has built a promising career on cinematic comfort food. His are the kinds of movies you put on to feel warm inside — to laugh, and maybe shed a tear or two, but never too many to leave you in despair. I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015) and The Hero (2017) both followed pensioners dealing with the reality of aging. Haley’s latest, Hearts Beat Loud, is the same kind of character-driven dramedy but with a younger appeal and with music brought to the foreground.
Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is spending her last summer in her New York home before moving cross country to study at medical school. Her father, Frank (Nick Offerman), is saying goodbye to both his daughter and his record shop, which he can no longer afford to keep. Growing up and adapting to changing times are problems we all face at some point; it’s not traditional movie conflict because it’s so small-scale and there’s no point even trying to fight against it. But these characters (and the wonderful actors who play them) are a delight to be in the company of as they say goodbye to the things they love and welcome new adventures. Sam has a brief romance with artist Rose (Sasha Lane); Frank wants to start a band with his daughter. It all has to end soon, but it’s beautiful while it lasts.
I spoke with Haley about telling stories that lack traditional conflict, depicting father-daughter relationships in cinema, and the joy of ‘nice’ movies.