“I just think you have let your troubles get in the way of your entire life.”
There is no doubt that music has a deep influence in our lives, and there is no one who expresses this better in movies than director John Carney, who has returned to the musical drama genre after his success in 2006 with Once. Begin Again is sort of a love letter for musicians and aspiring musicians as well, reminding them about the importance of not selling out and remaining authentic. This is a big part of the dramatic narrative and Carney, a former musician himself, reminds audiences that music is personal and has a different meaning for everyone. This isn’t your standard rom-com because the screenplay is written in such a way that you never can fully anticipate what direction it’s heading. Rather than centering on a love relationship it focuses on a work collaboration between people who are passionate for music. Somewhere along the way they got their hearts broken and lost their motivation, but a coincidental encounter brought these two characters together and set them in the right path once again. I fell in love with these characters and found it hard to resist this feel good film. The chemistry between Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley was special and charming. This film may have flown under many people’s radar, but it is one that is worth checking out. There are plenty of authentic and funny moments while the dramatic elements are also engaging. The cinematography might not be the best we’ve seen, but the rich characters and charming score make up for it. Begin Again is a joyful and genuine film that pulls at your heart strings without ever feeling manipulative or clichéd.
The performances are a huge part of the success of this uplifting and cheerful musical film. Mark Ruffalo has been on quite a role lately and once again he plays a rather flawed character in such a way that he still manages to remain likable for the audience. This lost musical producer seems to find his way when he encounters Keria Knightley’s character in a bar one night. Knightley is fantastic as well and I felt her performance to be impressively genuine and authentic. Every scene she shared with Ruffalo felt real and the dialogue was never forced. The natural chemistry between these two is something you don’t run into very often. I would go as far as saying that Knightley’s performance is one of my favorite of the year. Adam Levine gives a solid performance playing this self absorbed rising star. He is a better singer, but that doesn’t mean he can’t act. Hailee Steinfeld has grown as a mature actress, but she has always been a force to reckon with ever since her outstanding performance in True Grit. Most Def and Catherine Keener also have solid supporting roles. Everything about this film is charming and hard to resist despite the fact that it remains small and unimportant. It’s simply a feel good movie that pays homage to the influence of music in our lives, and lets us in on the creative process while at it.