Begin Again was released in theaters on July 11, 2014. It is written and directed by John Carney, the man also behind the 2007 hit film Once. A washed up music producer (Mark Ruffalo) has a chance meeting with a disenchanted singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) and together they craft a life-changing album and unlikely bond.
This film was delightful and as far as music dramas go, it has a warm and refreshing take on it never being too late to chase your dreams.
Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a talented young woman living in New York with her musician boyfriend (Adam Levine). After their relationship abruptly ends, she is left to re-evaluate her life and her music. For the entire film Knightley is bare-faced and dressed down, which is quite different from how she appears in other popular films. It was refreshing to see a female protagonist more concerned with her art than her appearance, which is an issue that comes up during the course of the film. Knightley totally sells it as a woman who longs to make meaningful music without compromising herself.
Mark Ruffalo’s Dan is a down on his luck man who has lost everything except his passion and love for music. Even during his belligerent outburst and subsequent firing, Dan is someone who many of us can relate to. After meeting Gretta, the two of them begin working on an exciting live album that they record entirely outdoors. Rather than continue to wallow in self-pity and sadness, Dan opens himself up to new possibilities and realizes that all of the things he seemingly lost can be restored. Collaborating with Gretta leads to a rebirth in his relationship with his teenage daughter, his estranged wife and his career. As always, Ruffalo gives a fantastic performance. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors due to his versatility on screen.
All of the characters featured in this film are incredibly well-crafted and developed. Adam Levine delivers a pleasantly surprising performance as does CeeLo Green who makes a fun cameo as a successful rapper and old friend to Dan.
Begin Again features enticing music that really serves as the heart of this film. Each time Gretta and Dan record a song, they are surrounded by others who enjoy the music just as much as they do. The concept album that they create together is unique and fresh.
Perhaps the best scene of the film is during Gretta’s album listening party when close friend Steve (James Corden) plays a song and dares everyone to not dance to it. As the music begins to pulsate everyone strains to remain frozen. In a room full of musicians this is near-impossible and within moments everyone is dancing. It’s a feel-good scene and one that reminds us that music is not just for individual pleasure, but should be a shared experience among friends and loved ones.
The soundtrack reflects this and more! Unsurprisingly, a song featured in the movie “Lost Stars” was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Original Song”.
Begin Again also stars: Yasiin Bey (FKA Mos Def), Hailee Steinfeld, and Catherine Keener. It is currently available on Netflix. If you’re a music lover and an indie-lover I would definitely recommend this film! It will inspire you to continue chasing your dreams whatever they may be. Check it out and thank me later 🙂