‘The Greatest Hits’ Review: A Beautiful, Heart-Wrenching Flick with Stellar Performances

The Greatest Hits is an emotional yet toe-tappingly fantastic exploration of grief, love and the importance of memories.

The Greatest Hits

From Begin Again to Yesterday, Sing Street to Almost Famous, music-centered movies have been bringing film lovers joy for years. It’s a sub-genre that helps us resonate and connect with the film differently, heavily shaping our emotions. The Greatest Hits, directed by Ned Benson, merges music with time travel to create an entirely unique approach. The story follows grieving Harriet, who discovers that certain songs can transport her back in time – literally. She uses music to relive the past, through romantic memories of her former boyfriend who died in an accident. Torn between attempting to change the past in order to save him or moving on with a potential new love interest in her life, Harriet’s complex journey is one full of emotion. Tremendously well acted by Lucy Boynton and featuring great tracks alongside a truly unique story, The Greatest Hits is an emotional yet toe-tappingly fantastic exploration of grief, love and the importance of memories.

Lucy Boynton‘s Harriet is a grief-stricken individual who cannot seem to move past her loss, cutting herself off from the world by self-isolation, and constantly wearing headphones to refrain from hearing a song that may involuntarily send her back in time. We start our journey with her two years after her boyfriend Max’s death, whilst she is still falling asleep at night by playing songs to relive old memories. Lucy Boynton is utterly fantastic as Harriet, giving a complex and emotional turn that may be some of her best work yet. It’s Boynton who helps us root for the character, as she makes Harriet so likable despite closing herself off from her fellow characters and the audience alike. David Corenswet plays Max, her deceased partner who we get glimpses of through Harriet’s time travel. Corenswet doesn’t get much time to shine as his screen time is minimal, but what we do get from him is good. The love between Harriet and Max jumps off the screen, and their performances are to thank. However good the pair are, it is Justin H. Min who swoops in and steals the show. Playing Harriet’s love interest whom she meets at a grief counseling session, Min is charming and swoon-worthy from the get-go. We quickly learn that he lost his parents, which helps him relate to Harriet’s journey and brings the pair together. Min’s performance is good enough to help the audience root for him and Harriet to figure it out – he’s friendly, understanding and a breath of fresh air that Harriet and us as viewers need.

The Greatest Hits

The Greatest Hits boasts such a fantastic premise that’s not only unique but very relatable. Have you ever heard a song and been immediately transported to a core memory in your life? Perhaps it reminds you of a holiday, a first dance with a loved one, or even a car journey with the roof down and the sun beaming down on you. The Greatest Hits explores this idea but in a literal way, creating a genre-blend that works so well because the audience can relate to it. A premise this good with a focus on music needs a banging soundtrack to match, which it undeniably has. Often steering clear of obvious and generic choices, aside from one scene involving our leads belting out I’m Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado, the soundtrack is made up of indie gems from the likes of Jamie xx, Wildest Dreams and The The. Every song used is very well picked, as the music matches the tone of the movie perfectly. Sometimes playing away quietly in the background, and at other times thumping through our speakers and demanding our attention, the songs flawlessly elevate what’s happening on screen.

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The Greatest Hits is a heart-breaking affair that pays thorough attention to the theme of grief. Committing almost 100% of its run-time to the exploration of loss, grief and the importance of memories, especially when we’ve lost someone, it ends up having something really important and poignant to say, with a strong message by the time the credits roll. The in-depth character study of Harriet only adds to this, as we have a thorough understanding of the journey she’s on, how her past has shaped who she has become and what she could’ve had if things went a little differently. Unfortunately, The Greatest Hits struggles as the plot progresses. Besides being overly corny, sentimental and emotionally manipulative for some viewers, it also becomes a little convoluted, particularly during the final act. It doesn’t wrap up in the best way, as it attempts too much and rushes through ideas that should’ve had more time dedicated to them; perhaps a more straightforward and simplistic finale would’ve made for a more cohesive overall result. It does ask its audience to suspend a lot of disbelief and frequently goes against time-travel logic, but it’s so unique and fun that it’s easy to ignore that aspect.

The Greatest Hits is a fantastically well-made genre-blend, tying together sci-fi and music in a genius manner to create a unique film unlike anything we’ve seen before. The performances are stellar, the music is great and the movie is overall pretty stylish, with aesthetically pleasing visuals that make for an airy and occasionally ethereal feel. It fully dives into its central theme of grief, giving an honest and emotional portrayal. It gets a little lost towards the end by biting off more than it can chew, and some viewers may be turned off by its overly sentimental approach. The Greatest Hits is a beautiful, heart-wrenching flick that will worm its way into many of our hearts due to its relatable nature.

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The Greatest Hits will be streaming on Hulu on April 12, 2024.

The Greatest Hits
‘The Greatest Hits’ Review: A Beautiful, Heart-Wrenching Flick with Stellar Performances

Becca Johnson

Becca is a Rotten Tomato-approved freelance critic from Essex, UK, with a penchant for horror and coming-of-age. She can mainly be found at Film Focus Online, where she is Senior Writer. She specialises in new release reviews, rankings and Top 10's.


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