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'The Greatest Hits' movie review: A charmless time-travelling pop-romance

Updated on: 13 April,2024 03:51 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas |

'The Greatest Hits' movie review: The writer-director doesn’t make much of an effort to convince us of this high-concept premise

'The Greatest Hits' movie review: A charmless time-travelling pop-romance

Still from The Greatest Hits

Film: The Greatest Hits
Cast: Lucy Boynton, David Corenswet, Justin H. Min
Director: Ned Benson
Rating: 2/5
Runtime: 94 min.

The Greatest Hits is an unconventional time-travel movie - unconventional merely because time travel does not happen through any machine but by means of a transfer of consciousness.  ‘The Greatest Hits’ title itself suggests that this movie is basically a remix of bravura moments from various romcoms that have come before it. But that fact unfortunately, only adds to the deja-vu feel you experience here.

Writer-director Ned Benson makes use of music to recreate those loving moments that Harriet (Lucy Boynton) experienced when her fiance Max ( David Corenswet) was alive. Max died in a car crash and Harriet was left grief-stricken. Specific tunes trigger Harriet’s launch back into her past. That’s probably taking the idea that music has an almost magical way of transporting us back to those lovey-dovey moments in our lives, way too far I guess. This one is a designated YA weepie and makes no bones about it.

Harriet’s condition doesn’t allow her to move on. Though she worked in music and was mixing Max’s indie-rock album before his death, she now has to avoid all those songs like the plague. She now goes through life wearing noise-canceling headphones and curating playlists with only “safe” songs - songs that have no links to her past life.

Set in rich Silver Lake neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Harriet lives a life that seems much beyond the means of her current profession of a librarian. Her four-year relationship with Max is broken down into song-specific moments and is on proud display near the mural on her wall.  When David (Justin H. Min), a potential suitor turns up at one of her grief support meetings, there’s a connection. Harriet and David have to bond with help from new music. That exercise in new romance feels forced.

Benson works his premise around the idea that people remember the time and place of every song they’ve heard. That is next to impossible because no human memory can be that note perfect. We hear several songs, some repeat-worthy and some, not.  The eclectic mix of indie rock to instrumentals which purportedly mean a lot to Harriet, don’t leave much of an impact on the audience.

The writer-director doesn’t make much of an effort to convince us of this high-concept premise. Lots of details are missed out in the romanticising of it all. Harriet can hear conversations even when her hearing is muffled and she continues to drive recklessly even though she just about survived a fatal crash. This shallow love story has little to recommend it other than some nostalgic rehashes. Even Harriet’s sonic-zoom into the past isn’t convincing.

The performances are fairly convincing but the characterisations are flaky. The relationships between the grieving Harriet, the memory of her dead boyfriend Max and the new guy, doesn’t come alive. The scripting is rudimentary and the premise feels rather underdeveloped. The thinly drawn characters and the choice of music are what fails this experience. Most of the songs populating this narrative fail to rouse you from the drabness inherent in this charmless romance.

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