BEGIN AGAIN (2014)

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Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Mos Def, James Corden, Catherine Keener

Directed by: John Carney

Synopsis: 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.

I have seen the cult critical hit “Once” and thought it was a good film without being bowled over by it. I may sound like a philistine for saying this but I thought the more mainstream “Begin Again” was far more enjoyable. In my defence, despite the strong cast that it contains, the film is made by the same director as Once, and looks fairly televisual in places due to, I imagine, the film stock that was used. Oh, and the music in the film was actually really good as well.

Keira Knightley plays Greta, the girlfriend of Adam Levine’s Rock star Dave Kohl. That is until he does the dirty on her. In the midst of this happening Mark Ruffalo as Dan is busy getting fired from the record company that he created, mainly for consistently being drunk. He is separated from his wife (Keener) and his relationship with his daughter (Steinfeld) is non-existent. One fateful night he is in a bar and hears Greta and decides he needs to sign her. After being turned away by his ex label mate Saul (Mos Def) they decide to record an album using the streets of New York as a backdrop.

I thought the film was a delight on every level, far more than I thought it would be. The musical numbers, performed in their entirety (although not ‘live’) worked well and were apparently shot guerrilla style on the streets. The performances from the actors were excellent, especially Ruffalo who, as usual, was on top form. His chemistry with Keira Knightley was fantastic and believable and real. The best thing the director John Carney did was to make sure the relationship between the two never strayed past platonic. I think if they had ended up kissing by the end of the film it would have ruined it a bit for me.

The actors seemed to have a lot of fun making the movie, and you could tell that many of the scenes shot on the New York streets and rooftops were one take jobs before they were either told to stop filming by the police or just interrupted by the public. It gave the film a real authenticity.

Begin Again was a real pleasant surprise featuring some great, likeable performances, decent original songs and deserves the critical acclaim it has garnered so far. Oh, and even Adam Levine couldn’t ruin it!

4 clappers

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About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

17 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Can recommend this film – music is great…. always helpful reviews on Movies & Music Cafe.

  2. ‘Love’ the movies! Need to see this one, thanks to you! 🙂

  3. giorge thomas

    I’ve been waiting to see if you would review this.

    First of all – I have to disagree with Once. You’re obviously a hard man to please. I loved, loved, loved that film. I loved it so much I made Mr Thomas watch it. Thankfully, he enjoyed it. Once was the sweetest film I ever watched. I loved that they didn’t overdo it, that it was simplistic and honest and the music is still on my iTunes playlist. Also, I really enjoyed The Swell Season, the doco that talked about the aftermath of Once. Have you seen it?

    I was a little worried about Begin Again because I thought it might have been a commercialised version of Once. It worried me that Keira Knightly is involved. I feel better now that you’ve said it’s a good film. Why this is after learning your view on Once is beyond me, but I’m still willing to trust your opinion.

    • I thought i said i liked Once didnt I?! I certainly didnt dislike it, just didnt love it. Not as much as you did anyway Giorge!

      • giorge thomas

        You said you didnt like it as much, and because im obsessed with it, i got wll defensive!

  4. Good review! Glad for Knightly. Many dislike her now, but I’ve always appreciated her talents.

    • Ive never been a huge fan if im honest, apart from Love Actuallg of course! And she was good in this, she can even sing it seems!

      • I was hooked with ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I didn’t mind her at all in ‘Duchess’ and I even liked ‘Madame Bovary’. I think I’m a sucker for the beauty of these films she stars in. Yes, ‘Love Actually’ I watch it every Xmas season.

      • Same here on Love Actually Cindy, every year for me too! Cant say i like costume dramas tough so Pride and Prejudice etc isnt for me…

  5. To me Begin Again is the second best film of the year so far. I loved it! I saw it in the middle of summer and it just lifted my spirits so much. And the soundtrack actually is good one. Great review!

    • Yeah it’s a really nice film isn’t it! I like Mark Ruffalo anyway, but was surprised how good Keira Knightly was! I haven’t heard anyone say it’s bad to be fair.

  6. I didn’t think this was going to be a good film based on the synopsis, but I’ve heard some good things about it and I think I ought to give it a try! I like Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley so why not.

  7. Pingback: THE MOVIES & MUSIC CAFE – 15 BEST FILMS OF 2014 | MOVIES & MUSIC CAFE

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