[Last Film I Watch] Begin Again (2013)

Begin Again poster

Title: Begin Again
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Music
Director/Writer: John Carney
Music: Gregg Alexander
Cinematography: Yaron Orbach
Keira Knightley
Mark Ruffalo
James Corden
Adam Levine
Hailee Steinfeld
Catherine Keener
Ceelo Green
Yasiin Bey
Rob Morrow
Rating: 6.9/10

Begin Again 2013

From Irish director/writer John Carney (also the of the indie dark-horse ONCE (2006), BEGIN AGAIN is an urban symphony of NYC, stars two bankable names of Knightley & Ruffalo.

Originally titled CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE?, which is more literal to describe the chance meeting between Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo) and Gretta James (Knightley), Dan is a damaged good, with the usual trappings, a middle-aged man abandoning himself to alcohol, separated with her wife Miriam (Keener) and distanced with their teenage daughter Violet (Steinfeld), once a promising executive of an indie record label, but now he is just fired by his business partner Saul (Bey) in the presence of Violet. It is the worst day of his life, and he is seriously considering to end his own life until he watches Gretta performing her own song in a bar, he is immediately attracted by her unsophisticated frankness in her music, and decides to sign her (although this is not up to him and he brings her to Saul to see if they can reach for a record deal).

For Gretta, the day they meet is assumed to be her last day in NYC, the next day she would fly back to Britain, her homeland. She has experienced a breakup with her long-time boyfriend and songwriting partner Dave Kohl (Levine), who has become a big shot in the city and cheated on her. When Saul is hesitate to sign her, Dave proposes a crack idea to live-recording an entire album al fresco, they recruit a band and then record songs in an alley, on a rooftop and various other locations. The two grow closer and a budding romance is appositely honed up when they share each other’s personal playlists while wandering on the street, yet, Carney calmly puts a stop in this corny route through Gretta’s realisation that it would only be a fling between them, and obviously Dave is still hankering to reconcile with Miriam and they should be a happy family. Meanwhile, Gretta also needs to figure out the mess with Dave, who is remorseful for his wantonness and intends to win her back after Gretta leaves him a song in his voicemail. After witnessing Dave’s live performance of LOST STARS (Oscar-nominated!), which is written by Gretta, in front of an enchanted audience, she finally has the epiphany that she cannot be a part of Dave’s new rock star lifestyle, a painful closure seems to be the right thing to do.

Finally, their album is accomplished, but Gretta opts for an alternative distribution circuit, she decides to sell the album in 1$ exclusively through internet, and it turns out to be a smash while Dave and Miriam reconnect their romance. Although the success of the album is a bit implausible and only can happen in a fanciful mind, otherwise the original soundtrack would become a much more sought-after commodity, apparently, one must love the soundtrack to take this film as a guilty pleasure, nevertheless, it is definitely a soothing experience to see Knightley in her most relaxed state against an always-unobjectionable Ruffalo, and it is a splendid date flick for hipsters in the built-up areas – we are all lost stars, a speck of dust within the galaxy, trying to light up the dark.


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