A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.
Fueled by a fantastic soundtrack, Begin Again is an excellent film that follows two individuals going through a challenging period in their personal lives, set against the backdrop of New York City’s music scene. I liked the way the film introduced the characters, beginning with Gretta (Keira Knightley) performing a song at an open mic night, as Dan (Mark Ruffalo) watches on, before flashing back to show how both characters came to be in that particular bar that night. Both had broken up with their partners (Adam Levine and Catherine Keener respectively), and Dan’s heavy drinking had led to him losing his job at his independent record company earlier that day.
The premise itself could have been frustrating in the wrong hands (another film focusing on the woes of privileged white people), but John Carney’s direction and strong performances from Ruffalo and Knightley make this a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Mark Ruffalo has frequently been the best thing about a lot of his recent films and his excellent chemistry with Knightley and a script that makes a lot of wise decisions in terms of how their relationship develops really enhance the film.
The supporting cast is strong, from Levine and Keener, to Hailee Steinfeld as Dan’s daughter, and James Corden, who is very likable and funny (not something I say often!) as Gretta’s friend Steve. Carney makes good use of New York’s locations throughout, and the smart and funny script is perfectly matched by the sweet and charming performances. All this is not to ignore the real star behind this endeavour, Gregg Alexander (of The New Radicals fame), who wrote the majority of the terrific soundtrack. Following on from Chef, this is another feel good summer movie that uses a cracking soundtrack to tell its story. Recommended.
Directed By: John Carney
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, Mos Def, CeeLo Green and Catherine Keener