Begin Again (2013) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Begin Again (2013) Directed by John Carney. With Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener.

mark-ruffalo-and-keira-knightley

After winning critical acclaim with his 2006 musical-romantic drama film, Once, writer-director John Carney returns to similar, albeit starrier ground with this New York-set story about a group of people brought together through a mutual love of music. In lesser hands, it could easily fall by the wayside as an unremarkable star-vehicle with nice songs, sung by depressed pretty people.

Mark Ruffalo co-stars as Dan, a down-on-his-luck music producer who stumbles drunk into a bar one night to discover Gretta (Keira Knightley) performing at an open-mic session. Ruffalo brings a natural charisma and charm, giving a performance that would add an extra star to any review. Opposite Ruffalo, Knightley is a prickly presence who demonstrates great versatility, bravely putting herself in a position of scrutiny. The songs themselves are beautiful and Knightley doesn’t let the side down as she captures the frustration of the single-minded musician, while holding her own on lead vocals.

This is a film full of people stepping outside of their comfort zones. Adam Levine, the lead singer of rock band Maroon 5, plays a prominent dramatic role as Knightley’s on/off boyfriend. His performance is capable, and his presence as an accomplished musician adds a layer of authenticity to the film that sees him successfully walk the delicate tightrope of rock-star turned-actor.

The cinematography captures the urban character of New York City, as opposed to the overused, glossy magazine cover style shots of the Chrysler Building. Carney opts for an impression of a city ripe for creativity – more organic than we’re used to seeing. Ultimately, Begin Again is a film about relationships through music. The relationship of film and music is a long and fruitful one – we have another gem to add to the playlist. 4/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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13 Responses to Begin Again (2013) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Marta says:

    I agree, it’s indeed a little gem.

  2. I happened to have recently watched this and enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s an instant chemistry between Knightley and Ruffalo that’s so watchable and I’m glad it didn’t turn romantic. Good review!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you for reading. Yes, you’re right, the chemistry was there, which was especially pleasing when taking into account that the actors/characters seem to come from very different worlds.

      The more I think about the film, the more I liked it. Perhaps if anything, the relationship between Knightley and Levine didn’t mean quite as much to me as it should have.

  3. Jay says:

    I love Once and couldn’t help but be a little disappointed in comparison. Budget doesn’t always equal better. Still, I was charmed by the streets of NY. Fun.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, I think Once is a more organic, natural film but I was still impressed with how Carney managed to keep some of that alive here, especially considering this film has a lot more star wattage. I thought Mark Ruffalo was particularly excellent. There’s something real and cool about him that I find very reassuring.

  4. lukasfilm says:

    Nice little review, Gareth. Really enjoyed this one as well and would also classify it as a fun little gem. Wasn’t blown away, but the two leads were really entertaining to watch.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much for stopping by. Mt reaction to this surprised me. I didn’t expect it to get under my skin in any way, but it worked its magic. I think a lot of that has to do with Ruffalo. He’s rapidly working his way up my favourite actors list.

  5. I think I gave this film a C- & a D..ha! A ‘D’ for me.. and C- for others because I knew that somehow it would appeal to certain people. Sadly was not for me. but nice write up though..:)

  6. Max C says:

    I’m still yet to see this film as it seemed to me to be advertised as more of a chick flick rather than as a music oriented film in the UK. I might have to give it a shot now! Also it’s been a while since I’ve seen Keira Knightley perform. Really well written by the way.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much. I hope it works for you. It isn’t a chick flick. although your’e right, it has been marketed that way. It’s a film about relationships through music, essentially.

  7. Lloyd Marken says:

    Yeah New York looked so romantic and modern in this.

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