Tuesday, April 23, 2024

“THE GREATEST HITS”

THE STORY – Harriet discovers certain songs can transport her back in time. While she relives the past through romantic memories with her former boyfriend, her time-traveling interferes with a burgeoning new love interest in the present.

THE CAST – Lucy Boynton, Justin H. Min, David Corenswet, Retta & Austin Crute

THE TEAM – Ned Benson (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 94 Minutes


Music can bring joy to our lives, help us heal, and even allow us to relive some of our most cherished memories. It’s almost magical how a song or album can impact us, so it’s no wonder Ned Benson gives this medium such importance in “The Greatest Hits.” Benson is no stranger to ambitious projects—his 2013 “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” consists of three films, each told through a couple’s individual or combined perspectives. With “The Greatest Hits,” he takes on a tragic love story with a magical and musical twist, showing us a new form of grieving. It is creative, relatable, and sweet, even if its beats are very by-the-numbers.

It’s been two years since everything in Harriet’s (Lucy Boynton) life changed, including losing her boyfriend Max (David Corenswet) in a car accident. Back then, she was an aspiring music producer, but now she spends her days wearing noise-canceling headphones and working in a library where no music could ever interrupt her day. Yet somehow, following severe head trauma she sustained from the accident, songs can literally transport her back to the moment when she heard them with Max, allowing her to spend a few precious moments with him, like at the concert where they first met or playing games on a rainy Los Angeles day. In these intermittent moments, we see Corenswet play a sweet, confident, and loving boyfriend, and he shares great chemistry with Boynton.

Unfortunately, it’s very clear to see that this is not good for Harriet, although she doesn’t want to address it herself. Her best friend Morris (Austin Crute) is the only one who knows her secret and tries to tell her countless times that it is doing more harm than good, but it all falls on deaf ears. Rather than make the best of the tough cards she’s been given in life, she’s entirely made herself a hermit, spending nights testing out vinyl, from Lana Del Rey to Jamie xx, to see if she can change fate. Boynton plays our heroine convincingly, making us feel her sorrows and understand how significant this loss is in her life. However, we also can’t help but want to scream at her that it’s time to move on and live life again.

She meets David (Justin H. Min) during a grief therapy group. In similar ways, he’s holding onto the past as he grieves his parents’ deaths by continuing to work at their antique store (beautifully crafted by production designer Page Buckner) and driving around in their old car. Harriet isn’t ready for love quite yet, but it’s hard not to fall for David or Min for those at home. He can swoon anyone off their feet as he belts Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird” while cruising around LA, and his gentle eyes make one feel like everything will be OK, even if he’s not entirely sure himself. It’s a delight to see Boynton and Min together, even if some of their characters’ encounters don’t always go as planned.

As creative as “The Greatest Hits” is with its time-traveling premise, it doesn’t go above and beyond the standard storytelling conventions. From the start, we know Harriet will meet someone who will get her to examine her situation and realize she must make serious changes. It’s not the worst storyline by any means. Still, when you’ve already given an interesting twist on grief, it would have been exciting to see something equally novel play out the rest of the film – especially when Benson already has a unique project like “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” under his filmography. The film also sidelines Morris, a character who is reduced to the Black gay friend. It’s a huge waste of Crute’s on-screen charisma. The group therapy sessions also feel like an afterthought, making us long for more time with Retta’s Dr. Evelyn Bartlett.

Regardless, “The Greatest Hits” will still tug at the heartstrings with its story about love, loss, and moving on. Where the film ends might not be the exact conclusion some want, especially with the crucial decision Harriet makes, but it does leave viewers on a high note.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Great performances from Lucy Boynton, Justin H. Min, and David Corenswet, and Boynton has wonderful chemistry with her male co-stars.

THE BAD - It doesn't go above and beyond the standard storytelling conventions. The film sidelines Austin Crute's character.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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Ema Sasic
Ema Sasic
Journalist for The Desert Sun. Film critic and awards season enthusiast. Bosnian immigrant

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Great performances from Lucy Boynton, Justin H. Min, and David Corenswet, and Boynton has wonderful chemistry with her male co-stars.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>It doesn't go above and beyond the standard storytelling conventions. The film sidelines Austin Crute's character.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"THE GREATEST HITS"