Hello World Communications
Hello World Communications - Tools & Services for the Imagination - HWC.TV

Film Festival Today

Founded by Jeremy Taylor

So-So Beats Weaken “The Greatest Hits”

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | April 11th, 2024

The Greatest Hits (Ned Benson, 2024) 2½ out of 5 stars

Letting go of the past is never easy, especially where trauma is involved. It becomes even harder when certain triggers plunge us back into previous memories, preventing us from recovering and moving on. This is the dilemma that Harriet, the protagonist of The Greatest Hits, faces almost constantly. Any time she hears a song connected to the life she shared with her deceased boyfriend, Max, she finds herself reliving the actual moment for as long as the song plays. As in, she actually goes back in time.

Writer/director Ned Benson (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) has a lot of fun with this premise, despite the tragic circumstances that led to Harriet’s condition. She and Max were in a car accident together, which killed her and left her in a coma (with the brain damage that apparently led to her current time traveling). But sad though this may be, the setup affords Benson the chance to create a lengthy playlist of engaging melodies that fill the soundtrack with pep and rhythm.

l-r: Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet in THE GREATEST HITS. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures ©2024 Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Harriet (Lucy Boynton, The Pale Blue Eye) avoids unwanted jumps by wearing headphones out in the real world, though she takes them off at home so she can choose the how and why of her visits with Max (David Corenswet, Netflix’s Hollywood series). She savors each such encounter, though try as she might she is unable to alter what happened and save Max from death.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, Harriet attends a grief support group where she meets David (Justin H. Min, Shortcomings), whose parents just passed away. The two of them have a natural connection, though her lingering emotional—more metaphysical, really—attachment to Max keeps getting in the way. And so the questions the narrative asks are if she can find a way forward while also, perhaps, rewriting what came before.

l-r: Lucy Boynton and Justin H. Min in THE GREATEST HITS. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures ©2024 Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

So far, so good. The early scenes engage and the concept piques our interest. Unfortunately, despite this novel take on traditional rom-com tropes—though there are plenty of tired clichés, too, including a best friend who is both Black and gay—Benson mostly fails to create truly intriguing characters.

Harriet has a one-note obsession with Max, who comes across as a controlling jerk who never listens to her. It’s not clear what she sees in him. David fares a little better, with more details to flesh out his initial sketch. For dog lovers—or just anyone who pays attention to animals in films—there is the additional annoying introduction of a pet who comes and goes as the plot demands, disappearing when his presence would otherwise be inconvenient.

Lucy Boynton in THE GREATEST HITS. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures ©2024 Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Love and the search for happiness are at the center of the tale, and there is nothing wrong with that; quite the contrary. But while the overall package has a nice, glossy veneer, the heart and soul of the center is too vague to resonate. The beats just aren’t nearly as great as advertised.


Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *