Begin Again: Review

Begin Again is the latest instalment from John Carney, writer and director of the oscar-winning film and hit musical Once.

A quasi-modern day musical, it follows burnt-out music executive Dan, who whilst on a drinking binge has a fateful meeting with musician Gretta.

Alone in New York after breaking up with her pop star boyfriend, Gretta agrees to record an album with Dan; an album with a difference.

Rather than pristine production, the two decide to record it on the streets of New York, using the ambient noise to make a different and fresh sound.

All the while, the two obviously become close, and as their relationship develops they begin to help each other personally as well as financially.

With a schmaltzy synopsis like this, as well as it’s cheesy title, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Begin Again as a formulaic romantic comedy that goes from a-to-b.

In actuality though, much like the recording of the album in the film, it’s unconventional and fresh due to its rock “n” roll attitude.

The narrative actually jumps from c to a to c to b and back to c in the film’s opening segments, cleverly mixing things up in a typically linear genre.

There are sequences throughout that have a real improvisational electricity surging through them, particularly the musical scenes on location in New York.

The script hints towards but fortunately avoids the regurgitated romantic cliches of old, yet maintains all the charm and wit you could want from a film like this.

Its chaotic direction breaths life into proceedings too, and New York (a character within itself) is shot beautifully, meaning a lot of the film’s success is owing to John Carney.

Mark Ruffalo is another reason it works so well. His standout performance as the dishevelled music exec really carries the film, and is as good as any other bit of acting I’ve seen this year.

Keira Knightley, an actress I’ve never really thought could act isn’t as dreadful as I thought either (although I’m highly cynical about her singing ability in the film).

In fact all of the supporting cast, all of whom I’ve found highly annoying in the past are perfectly fine, James Corden even managing to pull a laugh from myself.

The songs are serviceable enough, though none have really really stuck in my head since leaving the cinema. It’s a tad longer than I would have liked too, but these are small complaints for a film about which I was expecting to have many.

Begin Again is by no means earth-shattering and isn’t without fault, but I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable time at the cinema. It surprised me in many ways, charmed me and made me smile.

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