The new movie Hearts Beat Loud is a refreshingly realistic take on father-daughter dynamics, centering on a widow named Frank (Nick Offerman) who tries to bond with his teenage daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) before she heads to college by forming a band. The film’s heartwarming tale feels especially real due to how naturally it presents a biracial family without making it political or a big part of the plot, but surprisingly, Hearts Beat Loud isn’t based on a true story.
The movie was directed by Brett Haley, who is known for tackling realistic stories about life struggles in his films. In an interview with Deadline, Offerman noted that this is part of what attracted him to become involved with the movie in the first place. “I was a fan of Brett’s film I’ll See You In My Dreams two films ago. I thought it was really beautiful and touching—and simple. [Haley] and his partner Mark Basch, they write these beautiful stories about people dealing with life, and issues, and mortality,” said the actor.
In another interview with The Iris, Offerman elaborated further, expressing how much he loved the way his character’s story was written. “Nobody’s ever written me a part like this. I’ve never gotten one of the leads of a movie where I have this fully fleshed out story that’s so charismatic with my daughter and a love interest,” said Offerman. “It’s been like I won the lottery every day of the week for the last couple of years. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought that went into it other than to make sure I express my gratitude properly.”
In an interview with We Live Entertainment, Haley mentioned that after working on films featuring protagonists who were of senior age, he wanted to write a story involving a younger fatherly figure. “I knew I wanted a dad. I wanted to make this movie about a dad and to me when I work with Nick, Marc Basch, my co-writer, he was thinking, my producer, we all were thinking that the second he wrapped on The Hero, we were like, that’s our dad for Hearts Beat Loud,” explained Haley.
In the movie, Frank endearingly tries to get Sam to make music with him, even as she continuously rejects him in order to focus on her studies. Once he finally convinces her to work on a song together, it becomes a hit. This forces the pair to have honest conversations about the future, and an aspect that's particularly special about Hearts Beat Loud is the relatable way the characters are written.
Rather than politicizing the fact that Sam is a queer, biracial young woman, it becomes a small fraction of the story. In an interview with Bustle earlier this year, Clemons, who is a queer biracial woman like her character, opened up about how much this meant to her. "I've done a lot of projects that are specifically about being queer, or being a person of color, and as important as it is for those movies to exist because those messages need to be made and put on display, it's also nice to not have a point to make. To get to just exist the way that I do in life, in a movie," she said.
Clemons also noted that Haley and co-screenwriter Marc Basch allowed her and co-star Sasha Lane the freedom to interject suggestions on how to make their characters even more realistic. ""Sasha and I tried to take our own life experiences, and make it as relatable and honest as possible," explained Clemons. So while even though Hearts Beat Loud may not be based on a true story, its story and characters will still ring true to many people.