Begin Again - 3 Stars
This movie is charming, but an almost exact copy of John Carney’s last major film Once.
Dan Mulligan is a struggling record label executive living in New York City. One night, while drinking at a bar he encounters Gretta a young and independent songwriter whose music captivates him. Certain that he can make her into a star, Dan offers to sign her to his company's label. Eventually Gretta agrees to make an album with him and they take to the streets to record an album that captures the ambience of New York.
This is one of those movies that is just “nice”, it’s enjoyable and has good music, but once you start thinking too much about the story and characters it falls continuously flat.
The writing is very superficial, none of the characters have any real depth and this certainly doesn’t give the actors a lot to work with.
The music is the highlight of the film and it’s written well by a team of composers. The film provides a real mix of styles of music and some of the songs are performed well by the cast.
The acting on a whole is variable Mark Ruffalo is strong as Dan Mulligan, but Keira Knightley as Gretta seems uncomfortable around the camera, making her performance awkward and it seems like she’s “acting.” Cee Lo Green has a great supporting role and steals every scene he is in. James Cordon plays Gretta’s best friend and he really suits his character, but sadly his role is written poorly. Hailee Steinfeld plays Dan’s daughter and while her performance is strong the writing of her character is terrible, so this does spoil her performance. Adam Levine is another great example of why singers shouldn’t act, as his performance is weak, but his songs are some of the best in the film.
Overall this movie suffers from poor writing, but if you haven’t seen Once and just want a “nice” movie that doesn’t require too much thinking Begin Again is perfect!
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Movie screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas