Thursday, August 7, 2014

Movie with Abe: Begin Again

Begin Again
Directed by John Carney
Released June 27, 2014

A spontaneous trip to a movie theatre for the first time in a few months during a busy summer season presented a few options. A director’s resume is a major reason that I would opt for one film over another, and therefore this film, from “Once” director John Carney, was a natural choice. A return to the world of music at its face value presented in an honest and soulful fashion proves to be extremely productive for Carney, who penned and directed a film that’s much more expansive and aware of its surroundings than “Once” but still manages to capture the same spirit of and love for music.

“Begin Again” begins almost too simplistically and familiarly, introducing Gretta (Keira Knightley) as a shy woman with obvious musical talent timid at the idea of performing in front of others at a bar and expectedly disappointed with the lack of reaction from her audience after her friend forces her to come up and sing a song. One response, however, far outweighs everything else, and that comes from the eccentric Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a music producer undone by his inability to appreciate or tolerate modernity. The two form an almost instant bond and begin recording an album au naturale, using New York City as their soundstage and set.

That ordinary start doesn’t necessarily turn into anything extraordinary, but it does create an inviting and enjoyable environment in which to watch these two characters, burdened by a failed relationship and a poor connection with his daughter, respectively, grow and overcome their weaknesses. The music isn’t magical but instead serves to subtly draw out their true passions, allowing them to comprehend just what they have and to embrace their situations fully and optimistically.

Knightley and Ruffalo are both actors who have gotten much work recently, and this ranks as one of their most positive role selections. Knightley is charming and actually quite a musical talent. Ruffalo draws upon the insatiable rabid energy he displayed in “Infinitely Polar Bear” to create another appealing nut. Hailee Steinfeld and James Corden stand out in the supporting cast as Dan’s daughter and Gretta’s best friend, respectively, both contributing to a movie that’s entertaining and fun to be a part of, pleasantly enthralling and a great example of how being groundbreaking or original isn’t always necessary when a strong, well-executed story will do just fine.


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