If a band struggling to work through writer’s block sounds like your idea of a good time, Tribeca’s Love Spreads might scratch your musically-inclined itch. The quirky dramedy charts successful band Glass Heart as they go on a 5 week retreat at Rockfield Studios to record their all-important sophomore album. Arguing over song compositions, non-existent lyrics, band duties, and mounting pressures from the record label to deliver a perfect product results in the comedic elements feeling more flat.
As the singer/songwriter of the band, Kelly (Alia Shawkat) struggles to come up with something satisfying. She even goes so far as to lie about her progress on the songs, which I found a bit strange. One of the biggest fights comes when Jess (Chanel Cresswell) takes it upon herself to just lay a track down without the involvement of the other band members. Being part of a band is such a big collaborative process, and the only way to truly thrive is to constantly communicate. It would seem Glass Heart didn’t get the memo, because they’re just all over the place. When it’s 3 weeks deep at the studio and you still have “fuck all” to show for it, it’s probably best to go back to the drawing board. The band’s manager, Mark (Nick Helm), crumbles in his efforts to satisfy all the girls while answering to the executives commanding to hear fresh new tracks.
The final act is by far the most exciting and fun to watch. It takes a long time to get to the good stuff though—there is far too much quarreling and back-and-forth with very little plot structure or movement. Alia Shawkat, who I loved for years in Arrested Development, is subtle and realistic in her portrayal of a frazzled artist on the hunt for inspiration. While I was very mixed on Love Spreads overall, I appreciated that the music side of things was very satisfying. There aren’t a ton of performances, but the ones here are lyrically compelling and structurally interesting. Poser, a much better music-based drama at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, might not have the star power, yet it’s lightyears better.
Love Spreads screened June 13th at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.