One of the most delightful aspects of “Hearts Beat Loud,” a sweet and heartwarming drama, is the casual nature with which the screenplay deals with the lesbianism of the story’s female lead.
Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is a young woman who lives with Frank, her widowed father (Nick Offerman). The two share a beautiful, spacious loft in Red Hook, a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn. Dad is a failed musician who runs a record store — he yearns to get back into playing, composing and recording. Sam is a musical prodigy who wants to become a doctor. On a lark, the two record a song in their apartment, which Frank then posts on Spotify.
Much to his surprise, the song goes viral. Sam and Frank start getting offers to perform. Whether they will take to the stage together and whether Frank’s record store will survive the rising rents in their hipster hood become the story’s main focus. The fact that Sam is a lesbian who has a girlfriend is never talked about; it’s simply accepted as a normal fact of life. Nor is it discussed that Sam is mixed-race — her late mom was black, while Frank is white.
Sam is an example of American society’s new normal. She never needs to “come out.” She simply meets another girl, they go out on a date and quickly fall in love. Neither Sam nor anyone else in her sphere gives it a second thought. “Do you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend?” Frank casually asks his daughter.
The scenes between Sam and her girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane) are a delight. It’s the first love for both, and they fall for each other hard, even as they realize their time may be limited: Sam will soon be moving across the country to go to medical school. In a particularly touching scene, Rose teaches Sam how to ride a bicycle, something Sam had always been afraid to do in the aftermath of her mom’s death in a biking accident.
The film also focuses on the deep father-daughter love between Sam and Frank. Dad is now a middle-aged man, coming to grips with the fact that none of his dreams has come true. He sees the song he recorded with Sam as his last chance. He’s slowly forced to accept the reality that he and Sam want different things and that he must let her go.
“Hearts Beat Loud” is not the kind of mega-blockbuster that moviegoers often flock to these days. It’s a quiet, reflective film, featuring characters who feel deeply and passionately. The film gets an added boost from its soft-rock score, performed by stars Offerman and Clemons.