Director: John Carney
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, James Corden, CeeLo Green
What's it about: Dan, a down-and-out record executive and Gretta, the ex-girlfriend of a rising pop star, meet in a bar and after a few hiccups, connect, make music on-the-go, eventually cutting a DIY (do-it-yourself) album with a little help from friends and musicians in New York.
What's hot: In this pleasantly-paced feel-good dramedy by 'Once' director John Carney, the music is what draws you in and what keeps you in your seat. Sure, Mark Ruffalo (as the self-pitying record exec in question) is on-the-dot, quirks et al. And if you look at Keira Knightley's pained glances, arched eyebrows and awkward sighs and silences (and utterings, thereof) and call it acting, you're in for a treat, too.
But what you have to grudgingly admit, is that she has the voice. And speaking of The Voice, Adam Levine as Keira's douche-y sellout pop star boyfriend is no acting slouch either. He makes a confident debut. And in a fun art-imitating-life moment, CeeLo draws the guffaws. There's a subplot about a daughter growing up a little too soon and sooner than you can say, "Californication?"let me remind you, this here's a family-friendly film. And this film? It might as well be called How To Save A Life (or Lives). Also, what works for the film is that it ties up nicely and is actually quite realistic.
What's not: In Once, Carney showed us the beauty of simplicity. The talented Irishman's knack for telling a story that makes you feel, is still there in Begin Again. But, it seems, Hollywood seems to have hit him hard. The charm that made that film a success, Begin Again's lead cast's performances notwithstanding, appears to have gone for a leisurely stroll.
What to do: The music of this film makes you smile. The performances are sincere. Keira sings in the film and she isn't bad at all. What more can one ask of a film these days. Worth a watch, for sure!