Title – Begin Again (2013)
Director – John Carney (Once)
Cast – Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightly, Adam Levine, James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, Catherine Keener
Plot – Struggling record label owner Dan (Ruffalo) is down in the dumps due to his failings at work and at home with wife Miriam (Keener) and his relationship with his daughter Violet (Steinfeld). After a chance encounter with singer/songwriter Gretta (Knightly) Dan sees a ray of hope and a potential for a music hit, despite Gretta’s own personal struggles after her move to the city life of New York.
“You can tell a lot about a person by what’s on their playlist”
Review by Eddie on 18/12/2014
John Carney’s Once was a low budget film with a lovely message, a message that subsequently saw the film become a success the world over, an Oscar winner for Best Original Song and now a tale adapted into a stage musical, so Carney’s next high profile venture was always going to be judged somewhat in comparison to his hit but thankfully Begin Again can be easily recommended despite not hitting the high notes of that Once did.
It would be hard to defend Begin Again from those that call it a little naff or sugary but it would also be hard for them to say it’s a film that has no charm for this tale is one that will bring a smile to your face if you let it and has a message within it that no matter how many times we see it portrayed is still relevant to us as humans. It’s interesting that Carney has once more set his tale around music and where Once soared in its tunes Begin Again merely entertains in this stake and it’s more than likely due to a less experienced singer in Keira Knightly being at the helm rather than esteemed talents like Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová but it’s not to say the leads in this tale are any less engaging.
While Knightly struggles to convince as a singer/songwriter she has some fine moments in her non singing parts, her Gretta a likeable presence when she could’ve quite easily become a grating one. The star of the show here really is Mark Ruffalo however who continues to produce quality turn after quality turn and while he may not get the recognition as some of his counterparts there is little doubt that his one of the most consistent actors in the business today with his miserable yet not undeservedly so record label owner Dan another of his fine creations. While singers Adam Levine, Mos Def and Cee-Lo Green don’t add much to the overall tone of the film other supports from Hailee Steinfeld and James Cordon do fine work but other than Ruffalo the best character here is by far New York city itself with Carney capturing the metropolis in one of the finest ways in recent memory, it truly does feel like a living breathing member of the cast.
A feel good movie that does exactly what the doctor ordered, Begin Again is something we’ve all seen before but it’s something done with enough flavour of its own that it’s by no means ever tedious or intrepid and with some likeable characters and a story that thankfully plays out exactly how it should by avoiding many a cliché. Quick, breezy and effective, Begin Again is middle range movie making at its most recommendable.
3 outdoor recordings out of 5