‘The Greatest Hits’ Review: Time Travel Meets Music in a Romance That Misses the Beat

By Daniel Hart
Published: April 12, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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The Greatest Hits (2024) Review
The Greatest Hits Promotional Image (Credit - Hulu)
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Summary

Not even a superb performance by Lucy Boynton can save the awful storytelling to complete the movie. 

I feel sad for The Greatest Hits. It has a wonderful leading performance by Lucy Boynton, a compelling story, and has all the hallmarks of a trending streaming release. However, the entire film collapses thanks to flaky storytelling in the final act. I was annoyed that I put in emotional investment, only to be shortchanged by director Ned Benson, who absurdly put feelings over solid storytelling. 

The musical and romance movie follows Harriet (Lucy Boynton), a grieving woman who has lost her partner in a tragic car accident. In the same accident, Harriet suffered a brain injury, and when she woke up, she found herself having seizures every time she heard a song that reminded her of her deceased partner, Max. But these are not seizures; when she hears a familiar song, she time travels to the moment she shares the same song with Max. Harriet spends many of her evenings reliving parts of her relationship, and the audience must navigate whether the time travel is real. 

Rightfully so, the movie centers on grief, which should have been the central theme throughout. Harriet goes to a grief counseling group, and her close friend seems to be encouraging her to deal with her grief healthily. 

I particularly enjoy stories that handle grief. They are important. Not many cultures handle death well and tend to make the subject taboo rather than an inevitable outcome of life. I’m a supporter of films and TV handling grief in a significant way rather than a throwaway plot point. 

But that’s what The Greatest Hits does. It needlessly deals with the topic of grievance as part of a wider plot, which is a damn shame. Don’t worry, I will not spoil it, but the third act destroys everything the film built. Rather than honing in on the power of healthy grieving, the ending takes away any moral foundation in place of fantasy. Films have to be responsible for sensible, justifiable messaging, and somehow, The Greatest Hits manages to become a real problem. 

I imagine some readers will feel I am overreacting. That’s possible. But I remain in the camp where TV and film have to mean something. It’s not a medium that should be taken so likely, sidestepping real meaning for writing that does not make sense. It’s like we’ve become so consumed by the fast-paced media world that we are becoming ultra-lazy. 

And that’s without talking about Lucy Boynton, who is absolutely superb in all this. She sells her role well and is almost in a movie worth talking about. She plays her free-loving, kind, and understanding character to a tee, offering endearing quirks and imprinting her personality on the audience. What a waste. Lucy is the only thing worth staying around for in this film. 

I think what irks me more is that many audiences and critics will give this movie a pass. I’m just not in the mood to water down the quality of storytelling. 


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