For the few and the proud that have seen John Carney‘s Once, fear not because his new movie is just as good if not better.
Gretta (Keira Knightley) moves to New York with her musician boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) because of his sudden musical popularity and record deal. After Dave has an affair with a women at the record label, Gretta breaks up with Dave and feels lost in this foreign city. During the same time, Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a lost, independent record studio exec., drunkly stumbles into a bar and hears Gretta performing her songs in a dark bar and is convinced that she is going to save his job.
With the help of Gretta and other New York musicians, Dan produces and records Gretta’s album live in the streets of New York.
This star-studded cast, which includes Hailee Steinfeld, CeeLo Green and Catherine Keener, seemed a random assortment, but was surprisingly cohesive. When I saw that Keira Knightley was going to be the lead singer, I was a little concerned. Even though it is obvious that she is not a natural musician, she still held her own in the movie. (Fun fact: her boyfriend James Righton, keyboardist for London band Klaxons, taught Knightley how to play guitar.) Also, I was also interested about Adam Levine’s acting. Now he isn’t a Marlon Brando, but he wasn’t terrible. His main redeeming quality was the song Lost Stars, which I still have stuck in my head.
The music, by Gregg Alexander, was a good mixture of indie, folky with a dash of pop. John Carney often likes to use street musicians with a lot of strings and acoustic guitar and it was definitely present in Begin Again. The music felt that it was naturally intertwined in the plot as opposed to just plopping down a song in the middle of a sentence, which helped make the movie have a rhythmic flow.
OVERALL: Begin Again is a lovely, movie-musical that makes viewers feel inspired to pursue their big-city dreams. It is a great, feel-good movie that is perfect for a date movie that doesn’t have quite the predictable, cheesy ending that is excellent for the summer.
4 out of 5 stars