Hearts Beat Loud

 

Year: 2018
Directed by: Brett Haley
Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane

WRITTEN BY FIONA UNDERHILL

With ‘La La Land’ and ‘Sing Street’, we have been spoiled recently with a resurgence in movie musicals (not adapted from the stage), with original songs. ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ fits more into the ‘Sing Street’ model (along with John Carney’s other film musicals ‘Once’ and ‘Begin Again’), in that it doesn’t have full singing-and-dancing musical numbers, but rather is a quiet and gentle everyday tale, interspersed with songs. In this case, the songs arise from a father and daughter duo. Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is trying to connect with his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) in the summer before she moves away to college. The film deals with themes of change and loss; Frank is a widow and is also coping with the impending closure of the record store he has owned for nearly 20 years. Sam discovers a summer romance but knows it cannot last because of her moving away.

Of course, most of us are familiar with Nick Offerman from his iconic role as Ron Swanson in ‘Parks & Rec‘, so it is a revelation to see him as such a different character. I had not come across Clemons before, but she is a clear talent – not only as an actress, but also a singer. After blowing me away in Andrea Arnold’s ‘American Honey’, I was really excited to see Sasha Lane again (here playing Sam’s love interest Rose) and I also cannot wait to see her in the upcoming ‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’. The small cast is rounded out by Toni Collette as Leslie (the landlady of the record store and a potential love interest for Frank), Ted Danson as Dave, a failed Broadway actor and now owner of Frank’s favourite bar, and Blythe Danner as Frank’s mother.

The film is packed full of plenty of nostalgia – for Frank’s beloved vinyl, yes, but also both Frank and Sam looking back at the time they had with Sam’s mother before she died. She had also been a singer and at least part of Frank’s insistence on Sam singing with him, is an attempt to recreate his time playing with her. Some may view Frank’s attempts to start a band with his daughter as cringey desperation; for him to finally realise his life-long dreams. However, Offerman portrays the love and pride he has for his daughter and her talent so convincingly and heart-warmingly, you believe it is an altruistic act on his part. He does seem to genuinely be doing it in order to spend as much time as possible with her before she moves away. However, she is so invested in the med school she will be starting in the autumn that she is taking summer classes to get a head start. Things are complicated when Frank puts one of the songs they’ve recorded together online and it becomes something of a viral hit.

Some may complain (as they also did with ‘Ocean’s 8′) that this film is so low-stakes that you’re not invested. Yes, it is like slipping into a warm bath that gets very slightly choppy at times, but so what? Sometimes you want something purely feel-good, that will also occasionally have you shedding a tear. It is so refreshing to see an LGBT love-story told in such a positive way. Frank is completely comfortable asking Sam if she has a new “girlfriend or boyfriend” and he couldn’t be happier about Rose. Writer-director Brett Haley asked Clemons and Lane for their input into the dialogue for the scenes between their two characters, giving the relationship a more authentic feel.

The songs featured in ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ deserve to be hits in their own right and to be in the Oscar conversation for next year, particularly as some of us are still feeling the sting of ‘Sing Street’ missing out on nominations. This film is just a lovely warm hug that features tender performances and sweet songs. It is a vulnerable portrayal of a father-daughter relationship that still feels real because it withholds from laying it on too thickly. It’s the sort of film you could confidently watch with your parents and there is something to be said for that. I sense this could be the feel-good hit of the summer and it could finally help British cinemas move on from the Shatest Growman, which can only be a good thing. Go and see it – you won’t regret it!

FIONA’S RATING:

4

 

Advertisements

Flatliners

Year: 2017
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Ellen Page, James Norton, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons

Written by Jo Craig

The premise of quizzical Med students prepared to temporarily stop their hearts in order to obtain scientific and spiritual research from the afterlife, is a fascinating subject to explore even twenty-seven years after Joel Schumacher’s first encounter with the intriguing idea. The uncertainty of death is a relentless “big question” and a timeless topic for debate between the man of science and the man of faith that can translate into a gripping story… if executed carefully. This fall, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev is on call embarking on his endeavour with the great beyond, uniting with an alternative cast primed with adrenaline that ultimately become smothered under the weight of an unrefined rehash.

2017’s ‘Flatliners’ introduces medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) who is deeply distracted from her studies by a festering side project; an experiment to stop her heart or “flatline” in order to gain enlightenment and provide documentation of how our brains respond after death. After recruiting a team of four colleagues who gradually partake in her growing obsession, Courtney soon realises that tempting death comes with a price that alters the lives of all who tamper with it.

Schumacher’s original nineties production became somewhat of a cult success in the later years of its existence, combining eighties stars Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon with rising star Julia Roberts in a thought-provoking plot for the start of an action-packed decade that eventually succeeded in its obscurity, much like ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. On the grounds that cult treasures should remain untouched, the news of a redo was met with catatonic dismay from the general public, as zero interest was shown towards another steroid-induced horror with overactive big kids and their inflated ego’s looking to get their jollies from breaking the rules while using the phrase “hashtag flatline”. While hashtag’s thankfully remained silent, the outcome of Oplev’s modernisation was far from a trending phenomenon.

Breaking down what initially and conclusively was a disjointed cast, indie-comedy favourite Ellen Page spends a majority of ‘Flatliners’ holding the trembling hands of her supporting cast, while by no means creating a solid performance herself. Page has been under fire for accepting a role out with her usual genre, suspecting the part of lead flatliner as nothing more than a bonus pay check. ‘Grantchester’ alum James Norton and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ sweetheart Nina Dobrev appear unsettled in their roles as hot-shot Jamie and headstrong Margo, showing uncertainty against the material they’ve been given to recreate. ‘Rogue One’’s Diego Luna provides some grounding acting opposing newcomer Kiersey Clemons who has been named “a star on the rise” that regrettably failed to shine during any point of the production. This perplexing party of five failed to push the experience or summon the compatibility to make their rebellious bond believable, jilting Page to grind the plot forward while Luna remained shackled by a smaller role.

‘Flatliners’ grasps the main concept of its predecessor, but loses all momentum in deciding where its priorities lie and what genre provides the best platform to export those morals. In 1990 we were watching a classic sci-fi horror designed to last the test of time, however our present day rendition delivers a puzzling concoction of teen drama with cheap psych thriller in a lab of glossy sci-fi tainted with hand-me-down horror; a smorgasbord of careless niche crowd-pleasing. By the third act, we as an audience are feeling alienated after a shock conclusion to the second act, winding down with a wild surge towards time of death being called and body bag filled with abolished investment.  

With only the minor works of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Dead Man Down’ under his belt, Oplev struggles to deliver the gravitas or originality to make this remake worthy of being reborn, igniting a small injection of tactful imagery and ideas that loses its novelty rather quickly. A middling script penned by ‘Source Code’’s Ben Ripley and aided by original screenwriter, Peter Filardi hindered the films progress from fully exploring the girth of such a morbid practice and the impulse that pushes each character to engage our primal need to find answers. Key scenes involving the students “flatlining” episodes could have been the window to explore the distinctive psyche of each individual, building a robust connection with our protagonists instead of being teased with an informal introduction and a limp handshake.

All in all, ‘Flatliners’ was one ceaseless beep with no thrill and zero depth, doing its cliché rounds while the audience delved further and further into a vegetative state, only showing signs of life when Ellen Page cracked a smile or when the CPR got a bit hairy. While many predict this to be the bomb of the October box office, fans of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ will probably enjoy a Sunday evening tickle, while fans of Schumacher’s midnight movie will be eager to pronounce this nineties itch dead on arrival.

An unofficial warning from JUMPCUT: Epinephrine should be administered before viewing.

Jo’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Ellen Page And Diego Luna Star In Flatliners Remake – First Trailer And Poster Have Arrived!

“Five medical students, hoping to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment. By stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience. As the investigation becomes more and more perilous, they are forced to confront the sins of their pasts, as well as contend with the paranormal consequences of trespassing to the other side.”

Now I’m going to hold my hands up right away and admit I haven’t seen the original 1990 ‘Flatliners’, which starred Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts and William Baldwin, so I watched this trailer without being able to compare against it. Having confessed on Twitter to this, the numerous replies I had telling me to watch it has swayed me to give it a shot.

The trailer gives us a good idea of who we’ll be spending most of our time with in the film, and towards the end of the trailer we get a real feel for what kind of tone to expect for the film as the repercussions of the gangs experiments start to to come to light.

This remake sports a strong cast, featuring the likes of Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiefer Sutherland is even listed to make an appearance! 

‘Flatliners’ hits UK cinemas 29th September!