Review: Begin Again

Keira Knightley in Begin Again

How does Mark Ruffalo do it? Every time I see one of his movies I think, “This is Mark Ruffalo’s best performance ever.” Then I see another of his movies and I have the same feeling all over again. Welcome to Begin Again with Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in two of their best performances ever. 

The synopsis for this film is boring: “A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.” Yawn.

The cast list, however, is anything but boring. Ruffalo is Dan the music executive. Knightley is Gretta the singer. Along with them are James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Yasiin Bey, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, and more.

Hailee Steinfeld and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again
Don’t all the great dads take their kid to a bar on the way home from school?

Dan is washed up, drunk, his kid (Steinfeld) doesn’t like him much, his marriage to Miriam (Keener) is on the rocks. One night he hears Gretta sing and play her guitar in a club. He hears more than just her and her guitar – he hears a finished arrangement playing in his head. And it’s good.

She’s been writing songs for her rock star boyfriend (Levine), but just broke up with him.

With the help of Gretta’s friend Steve (Gordon), they record an entire album using unpaid musicians, ambient sounds, and outdoor NYC locations. In the process they both learn a lot about who they are and what they are good at doing. They figure out where they want to go in life and how they want to get there.

It’s charming and heartwarming and inspiring and full of good music. These actors give their characters so much reality, so much life. In summary, I loved it.

Begin Again from 2013 was written and directed by John Carney. Recently he told the Independent he didn’t like Keira Knightley’s performance in the film. And then he took it back. Apparently, “supermodels” bother him. Since I started this blog, I’ve reviewed 4 films with Keira Knightley, I don’t have a single complaint about any of them.

The film is currently available on Netflix, Amazon Video and probably more streaming services.

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