“The Greatest Hits” World Premieres on March 14th at SXSW 2024

Just hearing a snippet of a song can send Harriet (Lucy Boynton) of “The Greatest Hits” film back to a time when she and her boyfriend Max were happy and together. Director Ned Benson has tapped into the universal way in which music and certain songs remind us of our past. Benson has crafted a romantic 94-minute film that will stream on Hulu on April 12th and show in theaters prior to that. From the stage during the Q&A, Benson admitted to trying to “move into the John Hughes vein” with movies that have a great soundtrack. He has succeeded.

“The Greatest Hits” has echoes of older films like “The Butterfly Effect” (2004) or 1998’s “Sliding Doors” and of newer ones like “Press Play” (Greg Bjorkman, also on Hulu). This World Premiere at SXSW on Thursday, March 14th, has time travel, a killer musical score, and a heroine (Lucy Boynton of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Murder on the Orient Express) who travels to the past via music and is, therefore, constantly reliving those past memories.

It’s been 2 years since Max (David Corenswet, “Pearl,” “We Own This City”) died in a tragic car accident that also put Harriet in a coma for a week with head injuries. Even before the accident, Lucy could time travel via music. She tries to warn and save Max even then and continues to try to save Max throughout the film.

COUPLES

Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet are a handsome and charismatic couple as Harriet and Max. The next love of Harriet’s life, David (Justin H. Min, “Beef”) represents a second chance at love. There are multiple scenes of tender kissing, most of them involving Romance #2, Lucy and Justin.  The only true sex scene is an out-of-focus gauzy one, so the emphasis is on romance. It is also all about teaching us, through the counseling of Retta (“Parks & Recreation,” “Good Boys”) as Dr. Evelyn Bartlett, to go forward and live life in the moment.

Dr. Bartlett tells Harriet that we should all learn to “live the dashes.” She means the dash that appears on tombstones between the birth and death dates. Harriet is getting this message from close friends like Morris Martin, well-played by Austin Crute, too. She is told, “You’re making a conscious choice to hide out in your own grief.” Her friends and her counselor want Harriet to move on and engage with life again.

Q&A

From the stage after this World Premiere showing of “The Greatest Hits” the director shared that his own home in Los Angeles was used for Morris’s apartment. He said that a friend’s house nearby was used as Max’s house, that Justin lived nearby, and shared, jokingly, that the neighborhood now hated him.  Benson admitted that his editor, Saira Haider, had to convince him to lose some of the wonderful beach scenes that the movie uses. (“I was in love with that beach sequence.”)

An interesting question during the Q&A was to name a song that “took you back” in time in an important way. The team answered with very different responses: “Avalon” by Roxy (Ned Benson); “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day (Justin H, Min); and “I’m Sexy and I Know It”  (Austin Crute).  But Director Ned Benson gave credit to the enthusiastic crowd present this day in Austin for inspiring the film, saying, “You guys were the inspiration during Covid. This is such a special festival. I lived here in 2008. This film is a love letter to music.”

MUSIC & SPECIAL EFFECTS

Cast of The Greatest Hits at SXSW.
Director Ned Benson, Austin Crute, Justin H. Min, Lucy Boynton at the World Premiere of “The Greatest Hits” at SXSW on March 14th, 2024. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Since the emphasis throughout the film is on love, grief, and music, special kudos go out to Sound Designer Ando Johnson and Music Supervisor Ryan Lott. During the credits for the many songs that comprise the amazing soundtrack (Mozart even made it in with “Fantasia in D. Minor”), there is even a credit for Ryan Lott and Nelly Furtado, while Nelly Furtado’s “Never Lost” is also included.

The presentation of time travel is done well. It’s a tough thing if you think about it.  I had to think about it when writing a one-time travel novel (“Out of Time”). Exactly how do you describe or represent time travel in a book or movie?  Cinematographer Chung Hoon-Chung has figured it out for Director Benson; it works.

CONCLUSION

It’s too late for Valentine’s Day, but see this one with that special someone. It’s a well-done, romantic 94 minutes. My only regret when the end credits came up was that Harriet’s first boyfriend Max (David Corenswet) was not there in person. He was off being “Superman” for an upcoming movie and has also been at work on “Twisters.”

Director Ned Benson said, “I wound up with the perfect cast.” I would not argue with that sentiment, but I wish that the boyfriend’s order were reversed. It would have been great to have Harriet end up with Superman (David Corenswet) because their chemistry onscreen was lethal.

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About Connie Wilson

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (www.ConnieCWilson.com ) was the Quad City Times film and book critic for 15 years and has continued reviewing film uninterruptedly since 1970. She also publishes books in a variety of genres (www.quadcitieslearning.com), has taught writing or literature classes at 6 Iowa/Illinois colleges or universities as adjunct faculty, was Yahoo's Content Producer of the Year 2008 for Politics, is the author of It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now, and writes on a variety of topics at her own blog, www.WeeklyWilson.com. Weekly Wilson is also the name of her podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. (CDT).