Quick Hit: Less confident than his more recent Sing Street, this movie is still worth a watch.
After I ranted and raved about the terrific Sing Street, I decided I needed more John Carney (the director) in my life. When I then found out he had made a movie that was just as into the music, but with stars like Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, as well as a hadn’t quite hit it big James Corden (Into The Woods), I was attracted to the idea like… well, me to a movie. And while the film didn’t quite live up to what I enjoyed so much about Sing Street, I still found it imminently watchable.
Gretta (Knightley) has come over from England to play second fiddle to her pop star boyfriend (Adam Levine). Ruffalo plays a disheveled, alcoholic music executive whose life is falling apart. The story brings them together in a way that feels organic and beautiful, and we get to see both of their story’s perspectives prior to having them together. It’s a really well done piece of writing, and I appreciated that the script didn’t cater to normal movie clichés in order to bring them together.
Knightley gives a solid and convincing performance as Gretta, allowing a voice that I would not have expected to take scene after scene. She reminds me a bit of the lead from Evanescence, in that Emo way of performing – and all her musical takes are full of emotional bite. Carney shows his penchant for musical filming, often times making a music video out of his shots (which may have given him the idea for his future films). Young Hailee Steinfeld gives a solid performance as Ruffalo’s daughter in what could have been a warm-up for her role in The Edge of Seventeen. As previously mentioned, James Corden is Gretta’s friend, and while he never really graduates from that possessive, he still is a solid addition with plenty of comedic lines to justify his existence.
Ruffalo, however, comes back with a terrific performance of his own. Redemption is a highlight of any Bruce Banner, but Ruffalo seems to make a living playing characters with redemptive character arcs. His character is the closest to any cliché, but I found his scenes were played out satisfactorily nonetheless. His best moment is his scene in the bar where he finds Gretta – don’t miss out on it.
Carney’s love of music comes through once again (no pun intended, the director’s first movie is Once, and obviously this one has again in the title). Beautifully penned lyrics and a true artist’s sensibility are littered throughout the film, allowing you to sink further into the story with each and every song. But ultimately, what kept me from enjoying this film fully was Adam Levine’s character. I was never sold on his existence in Gretta’s life, and so a lot of the beginning and end of the film lost a bit of its strength. However, it’s a minor critique overall.
In the end, if you enjoy other movies in this vein, you won’t be disappointed. I’m going to give Begin Again a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"