Begin Again (2013)

Begin Again movie review
Photo Credit: Begin Again : The Weinstein company
Directed by John Carney (of Once fame), revisits music in 2013 flick Begin Again; a film about passionate people who love to create new and fresh material, and those who are just born to sing their souls out.

Gretta (Keira Knightley) moves from England to NYC when her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) lands a deal with a major label. The onset of fame is a fickle friend, or mistress in this case, as Dave's fast-moving rise in the spotlight tempts him to stray leaving Gretta on her own.

She doesn't really consider herself a musician nor brilliant songwriter, but her soulful lyrics and sweet lyrics reignite a passion of fresh music for Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a troubled, alcoholic music exec who is cut out from his own record label.

The fable of music in this film is powerfully charming and authentic. Both Gretta and Dan embark on creating their own live album on the streets of NYC mixing the city's vibrant atmosphere with the songs. Acquiring musicians from all walks of life from Gretta's struggling street musician friend to children's ballet pianist, their enthusiastic collaboration shows how music brings people together and also takes a romantic advantage of the Big Apple's atmosphere; subways, roofs, nightclubs, and simply people-watching in the park after midnight.

The partnership between Gretta and Dan as individuals and a duo splendidly shows the range of the actors and brings back entertaining and interesting characters to the romantic comedy genre. As long as I can remember Knightley has been delivering some on-spot performances that showcases her range and keeps upping her game. It's been a joy to see the chances she takes with every new movie. Her chemistry with Ruffalo is so strong and palpable. Some of the looks and touching moments they are simply electric. As Dan, a rugged Ruffalo brings a (literal) humorous and yet tortured honesty, almost as energetic as the city itself. Their friendship is refreshingly electric, intimate, and a engaging journey of self-redemption and trying not to sell out to be happy.

As their relationship grows and shows possibilities of a romantic future, the story pulls a lot of different strings; some from the heart and others that sorta ruffles up the movie's pacing and storytelling. Sometimes it's hard to gauge what direction the story is leaning. When Gretta and Dan are pouring their hearts into their album and each other, the story flows well. When it starts dipping into Dan's personal life (his ex-wife and troubled teenage daughter) the story goes somewhat unfulfilled. While their professional excursion is swoon-worthy to sit back and watch, Carney leaves a little bit of a void by the films' ending; one where I think he could've used a bit more organization to avoid.

Begin Again overall is really an enjoyable romance, comedy, musical, and authentic adventure of love, and the creative process; something that I can see myself watching repeatedly in the future. Its performances are delightful, its soundtrack is sweet, and the cinematography is genuinely dreamy. Carney's spirited film is a sweet surprise in the romantic comedy genre but also falls only slightly, lightly off-key.

Rating: ★★☆
Have you seen Begin Again? What did you think?

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