‘The Greatest Hits’ Turns the Tables on Rom-Coms

“Greatest Hits” presses rom-com tropes onto vinyl, look at love through the lens of music.

“The Greatest Hits” presses sci-fi drama into a vinyl love song.

Written and directed by Ned Benson, “The Greatest Hits” follows a time-traveling music producer letting go of a lost love. 

After surviving a traumatic car accident, audio engineer Harriet learns she can travel through time when listening to music. Triggered by songs heard alongside her deceased boyfriend Max, Harriet struggles to move on, constantly reliving the past.

With her abilities inducing involuntary seizures, Harriet abandons ambitions to live in the past. Her plans of solitude are upended when meeting shopkeeper David, a kindred soul in musical taste and mourning.

The core to “The Greatest Hits” is its revolving themes of love and loss through a musical perspective. The jukebox playlist features the likes of Lana Del Rey and Phoebe Bridgers to 10cc and Roxy Music — each lyrically embodying the subtext of a scene. 

The instrumental hodgepodge bridges the film’s heart to an earnest portrayal of grief and letting go. As Harriet and David lament their personal traumas, the two find solace in one another and the simple joys of listening to music.

Harriet’s vibrant prior self is in stark contrast to her subdued present. From confident to uncertain, Lucy Boynton embodies a conflicted Harriet. Boynton (“Sing Street,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”) gracefully tows the line from griefstriken to head-over-heels as she bounces between both emotions and time periods.

“When her and David meet she’s so vulnerable with her palms out exposed, fragile and doesn’t even think through all this facade that you usually do when you meet someone,” Boynton said to The Phoenix on a panel. “She just can’t and doesn’t have the equipment at that point.”

Alongside Harriet is Justin H. Min as the reserved David (“The Umbrella Academy,” “Beef”) who mirrors Harriet’s somber demeanor with an awkward humor and uncertain manner.

“At the beginning they’re connected by their grief,” Lin said on the panel. “Their sort of chemistry begins to sort of organically evolve.” 

Comparing the romance to traditional romances, Lin emphasized the intimate apprehensions polluting the duo’s connection. 

“I think David, he doesn’t even know at first if this is something he even really wants,” Lin said.

Harriet’s lost love is brought to charismatic life by David Corenswet. Corenswet (“Pearl,” “Twisters”) is endearing with his puppy-like disposition. Though his screen presence is minor, the impact he leaves is heartbreakingly memorable.

“The Greatest Hits” depicts relationships in all their honest discomfort. Embarrassing first dates, strained attempts at jokes and gradual revelations of vulnerability are brought to charming life through shared laughter and softly sung tunes.

In both the past and present, Benson (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Black Widow”) directs with an air of dreaminess and detail. From walls of photos to racks of records, each frame is riddled with personality to convey emotive memories tied to belongings.

“Objects have stories and carry history with them,” Benson said on the panel. “I think part of the movie is really about honoring those stories but being able to let that stuff go. These things are characters and they are alive, they are our friends and they become part of the texture of our lives.”

“The Greatest Hits” is a likable romcom elevated by its palpable passion. Music-imbued memories resonate with themes of loss and longing, carried by a cast clued into romance’s embarrassment.

The film is an emotional medley that encourages repeated playing.

“The Greatest Hits” is available now on Hulu.

Featured image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Brendan Parr

Brendan Parr