Begin Again: Rated “R” (101 minutes)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Catherine Keener
Directed by: John Carney
Who among us wouldn’t like to “begin again”? To get a “do-over” on our life. To set things straight and get back into the game of actually living rather than simply being buffeted about by the events that swirl around us like so much flotsam and jetsam? Well, as one of our own writer icons once penned, “Ya gottta go down before you can come back up.” Well, precisely that happens to Dan (Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec who — due to some deeply personal and very heart-rending events he has suffered, has had his life spiral out of control. Now he has been ousted out of his own record label by his (very business mined) partner, Saul (Mos Def).
He is joined on his path back to redemption by British singer/songwriter Gretta (Knightley) who has just been dumped by her long-time boyfriend Dave (Levine) who was her college sweetheart and songwriting partner. Gretta and Dave crossed the pond to America to cut a record when Dave lands a deal with a major record label. However, he is soon seduced by the trappings of his new-found fame as he has an affair with a member of his marketing team. Which — needless to say — a lovelorn Gretta reeling, and now she is left on her own in NYC.
Fortunately for Gretta, her world takes a turn for the better when, a fellow musician friend of here cajoles her to get up on stage and perform in a dingy nightclub where Dan happens to be drowning his sorrows. Even in his stumbling stupor, as Dan listens to her performing in that East Village club he and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. Now, from this chance encounter emerges a very sweet and totally enchanting portrait of a collaboration, that winds up being mutually transformative to the pair, which they then set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City, as they record an “open air” album.
This film is truly a soul-stirring, light-hearted flick about what happens when lost souls meet and begin to make beautiful music together. Still, it is important to understand that this is not a formulistic Hollywood film but an Indie gem, so the struggles they meet up against and the way they ultimately pass thought this storm, isn’t quite what you would expect, nor do things turn out the way you might expect. A most enjoyable film.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.