Returning to the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center from the Filmusic Festival this weekend is Brett Haley’s “Hearts Beat Loud,” the laid-back tale of a dad and his daughter who turn into a singing duo called We’re Not a Band.
Sam (Kiersey Clemons of “Dope” and “Neighbors 2”) has a knockout voice (it belongs to her) and a talent for songwriting. But she’s about leave Red Hook in Brooklyn and head off to UCLA in California. Her dad Frank (Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation”) is loath to let go of her. The widower’s vintage Red Hook Records is on the skids, his mother (Blythe Danner) has a penchant for shoplifting, and his landlord Leslie (Toni Collette) is raising the rent. After 17 years, it’s time to close up shop.
Frank still longs to be back playing in the band of his younger days with his late wife, and when Sam produces a song with the same title as the movie, he records it and sends it off to the digital music service Spotify. It lands on an Indie mix there and gains some popularity, so Frank becomes convinced the two can make it in the music business. Sam, who’s the more mature one of the pair, is skeptical but tempted, especially after her dad pulls out a song written years ago for Sam’s mother. And Sam’s grandmother was also a singer. What she really wants is to leave Red Hook and enter UCLA’s premed program.
She’s also fallen for Rose (Sasha Lane), an artist, compounding the pull to stay in Red Hook. As their sweet-natured relationship develops, Rose teaches Sam how to ride a bike, something she never learned to do because her mother died in a biking accident. Frank unburdens himself with Dave (Ted Danson), owner of the local bar, and dances around a romantic relationship with Leslie.
Once Red Hook Records lands on the brink of closing, Frank and Sam bring We’re Not a Band to the store, and their performance wows the customers who have shown up for bargains.
Director Haley has a knack for the kind of quiet details that carry along the story. Frank procrastinates about finding Sam’s birth certificate, which she needs to enroll at UCLA, and he buys music equipment they can’t really afford. Sam chastises him for selling a Tom Waits album for $3. Dave is an ex-actor and pothead who occasionally wanders off to Woodstock. And when Frank hears “Hearts Beat Loud” playing in the local coffee shop where he’s buying Whoopies for the two of them, he races home to tell Sam.
The multiple relationships of father and daughter with Leslie, Dave, and Rose flesh out the movie in a pleasing fashion, along with music that is vibrant and easy to listen to. The movie’s pace is slow, but it takes time to build up such a mellow and agreeable world.
Information and tickets for this and other movies at the MV Film Center, the Capawock and the Strand are available at mvfilmsociety.com.