The Greatest Hits (2024)

The Greatest Hits Review

The Greatest Hits

It is one of the things that everyone says; the song that takes you back. Some songs can transport a person, to a specific moment in time. 

Of course, nobody means it literally. But what if they did?

“The Greatest Hits,” written and directed by Ned Benson, takes that feeling of nostalgia and literalizes it times ten. After her boyfriend Max (David Corenswet) suddenly dies, Harriet (Lucy Boynton) has to deal not only with the emotional fallout of losing him but magical consequences she could never have seen coming.

When Harriet realizes that certain songs which hold a dear place in the trajectory of her relationship with Max have the ability to send her mind back in time allowing her to re-experience those moments for as long as the song lasts she becomes fixated on this new power that has no off switch: not just desperate to hang out with Max every chance she gets again, but desperate to try and change the past so that Max never dies in the first place. But when she meets David (Justin H. Min), her insistence on changing starts pasts with bumping against promises futures new made.

Not only does “The Greatest Hits” explore what nostalgia can do, it also plays heavily into its own nostalgic feel. The film’s strengths come from an old school sense particularly how characters use their pop culture references as language for their feelings I’m serious, some exchanges sound like they’re straight out of a “Dawson’s Creek” episode and I mean that as a high compliment. However, despite all this cute banter and sparks between leads being charming AF, “The Greatest Hits” loses itself too far down its own magical realism rabbit hole that its most powerful themes become lost along way wayside.

In your typical love triangle, there’s usually one point of said triangle you like more than any other especially where romance is concerned. But “The Greatest Hits” doesn’t do things the typical way, and one of its biggest strengths is that the chemistry between both Harriet and Max and Harriet and David is equally off charts. In a movie like this one where your main character has burrowed as depressive a rabbit hole as Harriet has it’s important for audience to understand why Harriet is so bent on living in past, especially when someone like David could be her future. Benson’s writing in first couple acts gives both couples leg to stand on in form some pretty adorable meet cutes, but emotional connection between these actors really sells love stories man.

When it comes to a movie that relies heavily on music, the music itself can be either really good or really bad. Harriet spends all of her nights trying to find a song that will bring her back to the moment when Max died, hoping she can save him. Throughout her search she finds other songs and moment combinations, as well as songs that don’t throw her into any kind of time warp at all. It’s those ones she calls “safe” songs she can listen to in public without worrying about magic taking hold. One of them is Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird,” which plays in a sweet scene where Harriet and David listen to it in David’s car with the windows down, screaming along at the top of their lungs. It’s perfect for the moment “I’m Like a Bird” might not be the best or coolest song, but it’s one everyone knows. It represents how safe Harriet feels right then, free from thoughts about Max and filled instead with the euphoria that comes from singing along to the radio with someone you love There’s a freedom in the song, and for Harriet it’s freedom to move on.

This is what “The Greatest Hits” tries to get at during most of its running time: How do past relationships shape you? And why is it so hard to leave them behind? Yes, Harriet went through something terrible, but her relationship with Max was real and loving and mattered. Just because she has moved on does not mean he stops being important. But then Act Three takes a sudden left turn that values the magical realism-ness of its reality over any tenderness or heartbreak around its main themes as soon as everything turns out magical under magic’s weight this ceases being about strength in moving on; now it’s more like what must be given up (by whom). That switch breaks “The Greatest Hits” in half, sending this viewer away from what might have been gained and towards mourning for what was lost.

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