A glimpse inside an all-girl groups second album makes for a recognizable but overall enjoyable watch.
By Sean Blanford
It doesn’t matter how great your first album is if your second album is a bomb. Those sentiments are shared by the all-girl group Glass Heart as they make their way through writer’s block, personal vendettas and ego trips, and an unassured manager that wants to get home to see his wife and kid. While this doesn’t sound like the plot to a fun-filled breezy time at the cinema, writer/director Jamie Adams takes a familiar story of band in-fighting and drama and turns in a good-looking compact film with Love Spreads thanks to the film’s performances and catchy music.
Jess (Chanel Cresswell), Alice (Tara Lee), Hazel (Ruth Ollman), and bandleader Kelly (Alia Shawkat) make up the all-girl group who head out to the country for a five-week excursion to produce their sophomore album. Their manager Mark (Nick Helm), seems to be up to the task of getting things done, but along the way gets easily manipulated by Kelly’s demands, as well as being focused on wanting to get this done so he can go home. Kelly has nothing to offer in terms of new original music for the first few weeks but doesn’t want to have anyone else take the lead with songwriting because this is “her band”. When the holidays come around, and changes are made in the form of new member Patricia (Eiza Gonzalez), she may be the spark necessary to turn the band around.
It was a smart decision to have such a compact cast for us to focus on the band’s story and not any unnecessary B-stories. However, this is as much of a journey for Mark as it is for the band. All of the characters have their own story arcs, and none get muddled or feel undeserved. While bringing in similar vibes to the 2018 festival darling Her Smell, this is less bombastic and grandiose, trading in the booze-filled rage explosions for caddy in-fighting about why there wasn’t almond milk in the fridge. This works to a point, but for the most part, it somehow feels both over-the-top and muted at the same time, giving the overall film an inconsistent tone. That being said, the performances from Shawkat, Helm, and Gonzalez were exactly what they needed to be.
Overall, Love Spreads is the type of film you’ll love if you are at all interested in music development or what it takes to get a record made. With a quick pace and good performances, there is a lot to love about Love Spreads.
Grade: 3.25/5 (B-)