The man who brought us the Oscar winner Once eight years ago is back with another musical drama, only this time, he adds a taste or two of comedy. Begin Again is a funny down-to-earth musical that doesn’t have to apologize for being the simple and delightful movie it is, even during the time of year where blockbusters are all over the place.
The story follows two characters, a washed up record company executive (Mark Ruffalo) and a broken hearted songwriter (Keira Knightley), as they accidentally meet, form a band of outcasts, and start shooting an album on the streets of New York.
Now, I know the plot isn’t something new to us, but good storytelling can always make old ideas sound new. And that’s exactly what writer director John Carney does: he takes a déjà-vu plot and tells it in such a simple and joyous way that you can watch his movie over and over again, without going through the ‘been there, done that’ feeling.
In fact, the best thing about Begin Again is that it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. This is story of Gretta and Dan, and it’s only the story of Gretta and Dan. Even with the well developed character backgrounds and flashbacks sequences, the movie is never off-target. We find no useless drama, no unnecessary secondary character side stories, and most importantly, no grand finale. The movie maintains a constant pace, from start to finish, and tells you exactly what you need to know without trying to say too much.
Another great thing is how good Keira and Mark clicked together. Keira is more delightful than ever, Mark is as lovable as always, and together they brought us the most unusual yet captivating couple of the year.
Finally, the movie’s main focus is on music, and what good music that was. Whether it was the melody, the lyrics, or Keira Knightley’s voice, the songs were extremely catchy and well-produced. And although it’s rare to find that in cinema, each song tells a story, and the whole captures the essence of love, heartbreak, loneliness, and new beginnings (hence the title of the movie). Mix that with a proper succession of imagery, and you get a heartwarming combination of image and sound that makes Begin Again the lovely musical it is.
Although Begin Again isn’t something we’ve never seen before, it has a multitude of good elements: it’s a down-to-earth movie that knows exactly where to begin and where to end, it shows Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in perfect harmony, and it combines beautiful songs with fitting images to tell a story about the aftermaths of love. Don’t miss it because of some stupid blockbuster, and get a hold of the soundtrack whether you end up watching the movie or not.
Rating: 8.0/10. A delightful and simple musical with good music and top-notch performances.