Movie Review – Begin Again
An alcoholic Record Executive and a Songwriter meet by chance during open mic night at a tiny NYC club in Begin Again. Dan (Mark Ruffalo) has been drinking his life away after having a nervous breakdown, his wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) left him, his daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld) doesn’t really want to deal with him and Saul (Mos Def) his partner at the label he built has reached his breaking point with him.
Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a songwriter who is in NY with her boyfriend of 5 years Dave (Adam Levine in his film debut) who landed a huge record deal. She’s a songwriter who doesn’t feel comfortable in the front and is there to be by his side. When the chance meeting of Dan and Gretta happen both have reached the bottom of their barrels and Dan is so moved by Gretta’s voice and her song that he feels he has to sign her and is willing to do what it takes to release her album.
Begin Again is not really about the music its about the people. Dan’s problems on the surface seem like all his own doing and its not till about halfway thru the film when he’s telling Greta about his first date with his wife that she learns exactly what caused his breakdown and how it spiraled. His relationship with his daughter Violet is the typical teen situation but he tries with her the way only a dad does till Gretta steps in and guides him the right way. Gretta’s only friend Steve (James Corden) who she knows from back in England is there when she needs a place to crash and to sort things out. Its his urging that gets her to sing. When Gretta and Dan agree to make an outdoor album with NYC as the background the connection the 2 of them make as they share their own feelings about music and the business, Dan’s world-weary outlook and Gretta’s heartbroken but young take on things, the mesh. Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley have great chemistry, way better that Keira does with Adam Levine. Its a good thing they spend most of the film together.
Adam Levine is basically playing himself in the early stages of his career. Dave is this young preppy guy who studied abroad and got a song on a movie soundtrack which launched his career. As his deal takes shape his look and style changes. Its rather comical to see him go from College Prep, to Hipster, to possibly uni-bomber, to dirty hippie. He doesn’t have much screen time with actual lines and that’s probably a good thing. He’s not trying too hard but he’s not exactly playing a stretch character either.
Begin Again is about restarts, hence the title. Its a charming movie that flows pretty well and has a satisfying ending. Everyone else up where they belong, its not perfect its just right.
My Rating: Full Price
Director: John Carney
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: June 27, 2014
Run time: 104 minutes
MPAA Rating: R