Begin Again (2013)
REVIEW BY GREG CLARKE@gregglesonfilm
From the director of 'Once', comes a film about a guy and a girl brought together through their mutual love of music. So the comfort zone may not have been broken through, but all the better for us.
The heart and soul, and real love for music are as present as you could wish for, and it's as easy to love the 'not quite anti-hero' (is that a new thing?) in Mark Ruffalos' man - child Dan as it is to be drifted contentedly along by the Once-esque batch of songs Knightley and Co give us. The songs don't quite hold a candle to those in Once- a film it can't escape in terms of comparison- but are good enough that you can invest in the joyous notion of 'music au naturel' this film promotes. Not even the slightly grating often wildly incorrect guitar miming from Knightly (impressive here as Gretta, a songwiter who follows a boyfriend from Blighty to the Big Apple) can put you off leaping head first into the vibe. She is continuing her trend of getting better and better with age, and the indie-feel of movies like this (also see 'Last Night' from a few years ago) seem to where she comes into her own.
As her boyfriend, in his acting debut, is the cleverly cast Adam Levine of Maroon 5 fame, who impresses in a role not immediately capable of more than a couple of dimensions, but is allowed a little more room to shine later on, and really seems comfortable on screen. Potential for a crossover career there..?
More than able is the very impressive supporting cast of James Corden (you sort of wish he had much more screen time) as funny but untalented pal Steve, Hailee Steinfeld (herself an Oscar nominee at just 13 for True Grit)adorable as Dans' daughter and wannabe guitarist Violet, Catherine Keener (underused fairly criminally, but great as usual) as ex-wife Miriam, Mos Def (wonderful, yet reigned in, as Ruffalos' record company partner) and even CeeLo Green as a sort of 'CeeLo Green' type- extremely likeable.
What director Joe Carney seems to do so well is to offer up to kindred spirits the notion that music will enrich your soul, enhance even the daily banalities (try listening to an epic favorite song on your headphones and see what gravity it adds to people passing by, simply living their lives), and even give you a decent starting point for adventures and relationships exciting and new.
Long and short of it is, if you love music, you'll enjoy this film.
GREGGLESONFILM RATING: 4 FASSBENDERS OUT OF 5.