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Begin Again

Begin Again

A sleeper like Once
would be a tough act for anyone to follow, but writer-director John Carney’s
new musical drama Begin Again stands
nicely on its own. It may not feel quite as organic as the 2006 picture that
put Carney on the map, but it has a fine cast, good music, and an abundance of
charm.

Keira Knightley plays a talented songwriter who has
accompanied her boyfriend (Adam Levine) to New York City, where a hit movie soundtrack
has launched him on the road to success. Their relationship turns rocky once
his career takes off and she winds up singing a song inspired by her heartbreak
in a club one night. Down-and-out music producer Mark Ruffalo happens to hear
her and becomes convinced that he can make her a star. What’s more, backing her
career just might prove to be his salvation.

Boiled down to a synopsis, Begin Again might not sound terribly original, but Carney has fleshed
out his story with wonderful songs and made exceptional use of the City, from rooftops
and alleyways to a subway station. The best scenes in the film have an
impromptu feel that’s hard to resist. Carney has elicited spontaneous
performances from an experienced cast—just as he did with the nonprofessional
stars of Once—and has chosen his
actors well.

Knightley is an ideal heroine, thoroughly likable and
completely credible as a songwriter who cares more about the integrity of her
music than she does about fame. (P.S. She sings quite nicely.) Levine, of
Maroon 5 fame, also fares well in his first major acting assignment. Ruffalo
hits all the right notes as a onetime golden boy of the music business whose
life is a mess. There is an innate likability to him that has us rooting for
him to succeed, as a father, husband, and producer. Hailee Steinfeld is
excellent as his teenage daughter, and Catherine Keener lends able support as
his ex-wife. Other parts are neatly filled by James Corden, CeeLo Green, and
Yasiin Bey (also known as Mos Def). 

Music producer Gregg Alexander deserves special mention for
commissioning and recording songs that blend seamlessly into the storyline  and help define their characters.

Although
it’s not a conventional musical, Begin
Again
made me feel good, just as those old movie musicals used to do. What
more could one ask of a film?

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Comments

Spencer Farnans

Lenord Maltin has his asessment of "Begin Again" right on the money.
This is a delightful film, which contains more than the usual fluff of so
many romantic comedies or musicals. It contains some wonderful drama
that has much to say about the nature of why we are alive on this planet.
And it also touches on some important themes about why man creates and
the importance of following through on dreams, whatever they may be . It
also has much to say on how we can all become better people as we travel
through this journey of life. Don't miss this one! You shall be riveted with
delight, insight, and pure magic from start to finish.

Brian

The film Once was in 2007 that qualified for the Oscars.

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