Begin Again

WRITTEN BY: John Carney
DIRECTED BY: John Carney
STARRING: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfield
RATING: 4 stars 

Begin Again is an ode to the music industry and pays homage to New York, while also invigorating its audience to believe in second chances. A likeable cast has been assembled to portray this sweet story, but it is the music that will really pull you in and charm you. This is definitely one film where the soundtrack is vital to its success. Writer/director John Carney covers various themes in his film including loneliness, love, city life and chasing your dreams. The ending may polarise some viewers, but it has a thought-provoking message.

Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a disgraced music producer/executive who is separated from his wife and has a teenage daughter he struggles to connect with. One drunken night out alone, he stumbles into a bar and sees singer-songwriter, Gretta (Keira Knightley), perform. She too is down on her luck after breaking up with her musician boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine). Dan sees some potential in Gretta and the pair decide to work together on an album.

Regular readers of my blog know that I consider Knightley to be one of the most appalling and annoying actresses working today. But, I was blown away by her performance in Begin Again. She is actually a very good singer and has great chemistry with Ruffalo and Levine. The latter makes his feature film debut in Begin Again and although he is playing an arrogant rock star, which may not be a large stretch for him, he was still quite good. But it is Ruffalo who unsurprisingly impresses the most. He is such a reliable actor and is able to express a range of emotions. Hailee Steinfield plays Ruffalo's rebellious daughter and she has some great moments. Catherine Keener plays Dan's estranged wife, and although she did not have much to do in the film, at least they gave Ruffalo an age-appropriate wife. James Corden also provides some sweetness and laughter to the film as Gretta's endearing friend.

Begin Again may seem like a very simple film, but it delivers a poignant message as the protagonists take the audience on their inspiring journey of self-discovery.