“Begin Again” is a simple movie, motivated by the power of music – but it works. The story is about the redemption of two down-on-their-luck strangers and what they get from teaming up together.
Dan Mulligan (a scruffy Mark Ruffalo), was just dumped as a music producer from the company he founded. In his drunken sorrow, he stumbles into an East Village bar and hears Greta (Keira Knightley), a young woman who writes songs in her spare time, singing. Her soulful song inspires him (in a very clever scene adding imagined backup musicians) and he attempts to coax her into giving him a chance to produce her music.
‘Begin Again’ Movie Poster. Courtesty/Reel Deal
Unconvinced, Greta turns him down until he comes clean about having lost his job. Greta respects such authenticity, which is the real issue between Greta and her sudden pop star boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine). So she gives Dan a chance and the resultant core of the film is the creative way in which Dan pulls an album out of Greta’s repertoire of songs, New York City and a handful of musicians working without pay. It is a beautiful story for the resolution both characters find in the end, requiring forgiveness and moving on.
Keira Knightley (Neverland, A Dangerous Method, Pirates of the Caribbean) has shown great dexterity in the roles she has played, often in period pieces, usually in dramas. We are surprised in this film to see her talent as a singer. She does well enough at it to convince us of her character’s dislike of the stage in favor of writing from the heart. Greta is sweet and smart and doesn’t deserve to be left for another woman by her boyfriend/songwriting partner when he gets his big break.
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven, Avengers, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) gets to play ‘down and out’ Dan, at the outset of the film. The classic Jaguar he drives lets us know he once had it all. His genius with music shows us why that was. We learn that he, too, was devastated in love. At a high point in the film Ruffalo gets to say, “Music turns everyday banalities into these transcendent pearls of wisdom,” while listening to a personal soundtrack and gazing at everyday people.
Philip Martin, in Arkansas Online, described this movie as “painfully sincere and free of guile” and I have to agree. The music may even be worth downloading.
“Begin Again” is rated R for language and for one scene with sexual innuendo (although it is within a marriage). Otherwise, this film may be appropriate for teens of any age that can overlook bits of language here and there.