Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Review] Begin Again

John Carney's second music-driven dramedy Begin Again doesn't even come close to the outstanding film that was Once, but we can't really expect it to either. However, Begin Again is still quite enjoyable, thanks to the solid leads, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly, as well as its agreeable premise and indie spirit.

Aptly named Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo [Sidenote: I'm just going to refer to him as Ruffalo in this review, 'cause this is a very Ruffalo character]) is a messy deadbeat that finally gets fired by Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) from his job as a record-label exec. That same day, he gets trashed at a bar and stumbles (literally) upon Gretta (Knightley), a shy singer-songwriter and fish-out-of-water in NYC. Ruffalo is enamored with the song she sings on stage (it isn't really a game-changer song to go crazy over, but the liquor might have had an effect). Anyway, he wants to sign her, but she's cynical about the music biz and understandably reluctant. Not to mention, Ruffalo doesn't even HAVE a label anymore.

An overlong subplot between Gretta and her pompous, newly famous, soon to be ex-boyfriend (played fittingly by Adam Levine), threatens to the throw the film off from its early humble and charming beginnings. But thankfully, things pick up and settle into a groove when Ruffalo takes Gretta to his former label and tries to land a deal. Mos Def isn't feeling it though, so Ruffalo and Gretta decide to make the album themselves. Not only that, but Ruffalo comes up with the cool idea to record the entire thing live outside, with each song taking place in a different area around the city.

The scenes of the outdoor recordings are irresistible, especially when Ruffalo gathers a mixture of street musicians, music students, and even his own estranged daughter to fill out the sound. And though Begin Again is bigger and glossier than Once, there's still a combination of great, small moments that keep this thing from being a loser. The film is also refreshing because even with all the moonlit nights and sharing of headphones around town together, Ruffalo and Gretta never fully crossover into predictable romantic territory.


No comments:

Post a Comment