Begin Again

Bask in the warm glow of this exuberant feel-good romance. There are so many wonderful things going for this film including a great cast of actors who can sing, and singers who can act. This movie is not a musical but it is music driven and some characters do sing because they happen to be singer-songwriters performing in various New York locations.

If you loved Alan Parker’s soul music film The Commitments (1991), you will also love this movie. Both are about community and like-minded people and musicians from different walks of life coming together to make great music and a name for themselves while attaining new heights and reconciliation in their personal and professional lives.

A washed-up alcoholic middle aged New York music producer Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo) is fired from his job at the music studio he co-founded because he finds himself at odds with today’s changing corporate mind-set of a profit driven production environment that dominates the music business. 

Meanwhile, in another part of town, a young songwriter, Gretta (Keira Knightly), suddenly finds herself alone after being dumped by her longtime partner, a singer-songwriter on the verge of landing a major label, while in town to help him produce his new album.

Drowning their sorrows, these two sad souls both end up in the same bar one night. When Gretta is pressured onto the stage by her friends to sing one of her songs, she immediately draws the attention of Dan, who is entranced by her song and sees great potential in her. From there, these two people, who were at the bottom of their emotional strings, suddenly find new inspiration to be better than anyone would have imagined them capable of.

When his studio is unable to see the potential in Dan’s new prodigy, he decides to help her make a demo by gathering some backup musicians and recording her songs in outdoor locations around well-known parts of New York City. What follows is a spontaneous joyful musical journey of expression that’s inspiring to see and hear.

Begin Again has a great message about passion, the joys of music and being true to yourself while at the same time being extremely entertaining with lots of songs and great performances by a fun cast. It’s a satisfying film with genuine characters that’s also about how today’s music industry has changed to become a dishonest business taking the music away from its authentic artistic roots.

Written and directed by the Irish filmmaker John Carney, well known for another fine film about musicians, the Sundance Audience Award winner Once (2006), has once again given us an exceptional and inspiring charmer of two people coming together in the unlikeliest of circumstances, and is nominated at this year’s Oscars for Best Song – Lost Stars, performed by Adam Levine who plays Gretta’s ex-partner in the film.

Begin Again, like its characters and the songs they write, is a genuine soulful gem among the big studio hyped block busters that deserves our attention and will not disappoint those who seek it out and put their faith in this delightful little film from the heart.


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