A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive (Mark Ruffalo) and a young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.
Review by Louise Keller:
Music is the driver of this utterly charming film about songs, lost stars and being alone in New York City. Like different instruments that express their own statement as they play together, the characters each have a sound of their own, forming an orchestra of emotions, complete with harmonies, discords, textures and cadences.
Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are wonderful together: she is a vulnerable song writer who lives her emotional life through her music, while he is a troubled record producer whose life is a mess. And then there is James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener and Adam Levine, who all contribute to this patchwork about life, love, relationships, career and dreams. The result is a wonderful interval of angst, joy, adventure and discovery.
Like a song that flows, there is fluidity to filmmaker John Carney's screenplay, allowing everything to evolve naturally. The rewind approach in which we immediately understand the characters and the context works a treat. The film begins in a laid back New York club where Greta (Knightley, disarmingly good) reluctantly agrees to sing one of her songs, accompanied by her guitar. The crowd is nonplussed, with the exception of Mark Ruffalo's wildly enthusiastic Dan, looking like a homeless man who has made love to a bottle of whisky. Through Dan's eyes (and his imagination), we see the lonely keyboard, bass and violin magically come to life filling out the sound as the backing track while Greta plays her song. Ruffalo is a huge talent; he brings every scene to life.
Adam Levine (frontman for Maroon 5) is well cast - and surprisingly funny - in his first film role as Greta's rising star boyfriend Dave, whose taste of success propels their relationship into new territory. They both write songs that reflect their feelings and I love the scene when Greta leaves one of her original songs on Dave's voicemail, leaving no doubt as to how she is feeling. James Corden, who endearingly played Paul Potts in One Chance, is a great addition as the warm-hearted busker while Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld effectively play Dan's sympathetic ex-wife and rebellious daughter respectively.
The film is deceptively simple but with complex undertones and a big heart. Its joys are endless and Carney's portrayal of the characters, their relationships and the way music carries the narrative to its inevitable conclusion is a delight. This is a pearl of a film as relationships evolve, hearts are broken and music paves the way to resolutions, fulfilment and salvation. Carney has further developed the concept of his successful 2006 film Once, in which music was also used to reveal the narrative.
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BEGIN AGAIN (M)
CAST: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, Catherine Keener,
PRODUCER: Tobin Armburst, Anthony Bregman,
DIRECTOR: John Carney
SCRIPT: John Carney
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yaron Orbach
EDITOR: Andrew Marcus
MUSIC: Gregg Alexander
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chad Keith
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 7, 2014