When you see as many movies each year as I do you begin to become a bit jaded. This can cause you to lose your perspective and your enthusiasm for an art form you have loved your entire life. After a million car crashes and crude comedies you begin to question if Hollywood is still making good movies. Then along comes a movie like "Begin Again" and your faith in film is renewed.
"Begin Again" is a near perfect movie, this is because it appears to be a movie made by talent all round that loves the art of filmmaking. It tells a simple story but it is one that goes straight for the heart and embeds itself there. All of the plot possibilities end up being the right choices, down to the scenes that are part of the credits.
The basic story is about a female songwriter named Greta (Keira Knightley) who comes to New York with her singer composer boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine). Just when he is breaking through with his career they break up. Disillusioned she moves in with her good friend Steve (James Cordon). He is also a performer and at one of his club gigs he gets her to sing one of her songs. Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a record producer, is in the audience and asks to sign her to make a record. The rest of the movie is about their efforts to do just that.
Knightley is amazing in the role of Greta. She had already won the hearts of most moviegoers in movies such as "Love Actually" and "Pride and Prejudice." She showed her talents for comedy, drama and romance in those films. But in this movie she also sings in a voice that is clear and lovely. Who knew! It makes her fans just love her more.
Ruffalo doesn't sing in his role but he does show more charisma than he ever has. With a head of curly hair and a slouchy, rumpled demeanor he is the perfect picture of a man on a downward slide. You are rooting for him from the start and when he manages a success or two you cheer for his persistence. Ruffalo has been around Hollywood for a while and has always promised he could deliver a performance such as this one.
To add to the beauty of the Knightley/Ruffalo performances, you also get superb supporting turns by Levine, Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld. Each one adds a particularly appealing element to one or more specific scenes.
The film is rated R for language.
Some movies have a strong plot while others have a strong cast. Some deliver a particularly strong message while others endear with music or comedy. "Begin Again" has all of these elements and more, and brings them together in a totally enjoyable manner.
It is wonderful to discover a gem of a film like "Begin Again" and it will be more fun to see it again and again.
I scored "Begin Again" a renewed 9 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper