Brea Grant is my MVP of the festival as she is involved in two films on this list. She stars in Night Sky, and directs Torn Hearts. Released in the UK on Monday 5th September, Torn Hearts is already available in the US. Set in the world of Country Music, Torn Hearts is wickedly entertaining; read more below.
Equally talented as a writer, director, and actor, Brea Grant has to be one of the hardest working people in the film industry. You only have to look at the line-up for this year’s Arrow Video FrightFest for proof. Grant has two films at the festival. The first, Night Sky, screened on Friday and saw her act her socks off. Her second film, Torn Hearts, has just debuted to UK audiences. For this project Grant stepped into the role of director, following in the wake of the success of 12 Hour Shift.
Never one to do the same thing twice, Grant’s latest project is far removed from her last directorial effort. Set within the Country Music industry, Torn Hearts follows Jordan (Abby Qui ) and Leigh (Alexxis Lemire) as they try to make it to the top. Performing as the musical duo Torn Hearts, the pair are on the precipice of fame. Although outwardly together, Leigh and Jordan have varying ideas about the best way and reason to become famous. Leigh is content to be the face of the partnership, happy to let her boyfriend and their manager, Richie (The Blair Witch Project’s Joshua Leonard), take the reins. Jordan however, wants them to earn their fame for the quality of their music. She’s the musician and writer of the group, and would be content to never be famous so long as people enjoy the music they make.
After an encounter with Country Music sex-God Caleb Crawford (Shiloh Fernandez), Jordan stumbles across the answer to their problems – the address of their shared idol, Harper Dutch (Katey Sagal). The singer has become a recluse since the death of her sister and bandmate, Hope Dutch (Alon McKlveen), but Jordan and Leigh are hoping that a collaboration may tempt her out of her enforced retirement. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and Jordan and Leigh quickly find themselves in over their heads. Harper is very keen to work with the duo, but her method of recording is a tad extreme.
A lengthy premise on paper, this is only a small fraction of Torn Hearts’ story. From this point the story twists and turns, winding down an ever distorting road. Pacts are made, backs are stabbed, and hearts are broken; the perfect ingredients for a delectable jaunt. Torn Hearts has a wicked sense of humour. Grant walks the line between dark comedy and chilling thriller beautifully. The tone effortlessly morphs from scene to scene, putting the viewer onto the same backfoot as Jordan and Leigh.
If there’s one industry as cutthroat as the movie industry, it’s the music world, and so it’s the perfect setting for this fame-seeking story. The music industry, especially country music, is renowned for being a man’s world, and so it makes sense to see these three women struggling. Women have been systematically conditioned to see other females as a threat rather than an ally. This is exemplified perfectly here. These three women could work together to create something beautiful, but the indoctrination of a patriarchal society has them eager to outwit and compete with one another. An interesting aspect of Torn Hearts is to imagine whether the story would work in the same way were the leads all to be male.
Torn Hearts has many more layers than just in-fighting women. Rachel Koller Croft’s script also analyses the weight of stardom, the need to achieve a dream, and the drive to remain relevant. Drilling down even further, Torn Hearts explores the bonds of both families and friendships and how starry eyes can distort and fray these ties. With so much complexity on offer, it takes a strong cast to communicate everything. In Quinn, Lemire, and Sagal, Brea Grant has sourced a trifecta of talent. Both Quinn and Lemire are fairly young to the film industry but hold their own against the more experienced Sagal. The fact that they have less experience plays well into the character’s own dynamic and there’s a slight sense of art mirroring life. In Sons of Anarchy, Sagal proved herself time and time again as an acting force to be reckoned with and here she excels. Her performance as Harper is expertly balanced as she portrays just the right ratio of unbalance to eccentric. Sagal’s performance throws down a gauntlet and challenges her younger counterparts to up their game.
Another win for Brea Grant, Torn Hearts is a wonderfully wicked thriller. Stained with some black-hearted comedic elements, and accompanied by a catchy country soundtrack, Torn Hearts is superbly entertaining. Expertly acted, Torn Hearts is a wickedly dark thriller. An excellently intense dark-woven tale, Torn Hearts will have audiences squirming in their seats.
Torn Hearts is available to buy or rent on digital from 5th September from Paramount Pictures.