Begin Again

Lost Stars Music Video from the "Begin Again" soundtrack

Begin Again

Director: John Carney

Writer: John Carney

Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, Karen Pittman, Paul Romero, Catherine Keener, Andrew Sellon, Ed Renninger, Eric Burton, Marco Assante, Mary Catherine Garrison, Jen Jacob

Synopsis: 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.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language

Stevennix2001's Rating:

10 / 10

Pros:


- Acting was great

- Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo have a lot of great chemistry together

- The story was well written, and very unpredictable.

- The soundtrack to "Begin Again" was great

- Had a strong theme about how life can knock us down, but you should never give up starting over again.

- The editing choice around the beginning was rather clever, and made the film seem a bit more interesting.

- John Carney does a great job directing this feature

Cons:


- I honestly can't think of any flaws for this feature.

You're only as strong as your next move

Sometimes life can knock us down a peg, but that's all the more reason to get back up. One moment you could be on top of the world, and the next moment you'll have lost everything that you've held dear. However, you're only as strong as your next move, and every move you take has to count for something...whether it be for better or worse. "Begin Again" may not have had all the hype that "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" had coming into this summer, but it has something deeper than what Bay's movies had to offer. It had substance. It wasn't about style, but rather about telling a great story about new beginnings.

"Begin Again" is by far one of the best films of this year, and it's a crying shame that most people haven't heard of it. The film follows a struggling music executive named Dan (Mark Ruffalo). Recently divorced, and he's become something of an alcoholic over the years. His ex wife calls him a loser behind his back, as he struggles to bond with his estranged teenage daughter, Violet (Hailee Steinfeld).

And to make matters worse, the record label that he works for is starting to lose touch with the creativity of the industry itself. It seems like Dan's boss is more concerned with coming up with gimmicks to sell records, like audio commentaries on songs, rather than cultivating creative artists like the old days.

However, Dan soon discovers a young lady by the name of Gretta (Keira Knightley), who happens to be a song writer. Like Dan, she too has her own sad story as well. Gretta was dating a talented musician named Dave Kohl (Adam Levine). They both moved to New York together, after Dave signed a contract with a major record label. Although Dave and Gretta were dating, they were also business partners as well. He would perform for various crowds, while she would write most of the songs.

Sadly, like most musical artists that sell their creative souls to the corporate devils of America, Dave succumbs to the dark side of the music business. Trading in his artistic integrity, for mainstream success and popularity. And to add even more insult to injury, we soon learn that he's cheating on Gretta as well.

When we first meet our main characters, we know so little about them as the story starts off in a local bar. Dan is drowning his sorrows in another glass of alcohol, but he soon hears Gretta's heavenly voice singing up on stage for all to see. Playing by herself with her guitar. But in Dan's mind, he sees potential, and hears something that even she doesn't. He hears how her song might sound if only she had a violin player, a drummer, a keyboard player, and maybe a few other guitarists in her band. This is orchestrated during a scene, where the instruments play by themselves as she plays, but only Dan can see this inside his own mind.

It's from this particular scene, John Carney and Andrew Marcus (the editor) chose a rather unusual but surprisingly effective editing choice. After the opening scene closes, the story flashes back to give the audience some back story on Dan's life, while showing us the sequence of events that would inevitably lead him to the bar to discover Gretta.

Once we get to the bar again, we see the opening scene play itself out from Dan's perspective this time, as he hears the potential of what her song could be. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the movie shifts back again to provide the audience some back story on Gretta this time around. It shows how she was once happily living with Dave, in New York. But then, we start to see their relationship deteriorate before our very eyes. Inevitably leading her to leave him, and seeking refuge over at a friend's place for awhile. All this inevitably leading her to going to the bar at the beginning, as we see the entire opening sequence play itself out again.

It's a very unique way to edit the first act of this movie, but it works surprisingly well. Each time the movie shifts back to provide back story on both Gretta and Dan, it never plays itself out exactly the same way. Each time we see the opening bar scene, it's shown from a different point of view. This makes the scene very interesting to watch. However, that's not to say that the entire movie is edited this way, but only the opening sequence. The rest of movie plays out in a linear pattern. Therefore, if you're worried this is going to have sort of a mixed editing style similar to "Pulp Fiction", then I wouldn't worry. It's only for the opening that John Carney elects to do this.

The soundtrack to "Begin Again" is rather tasteful, and fits the mood of the film perfectly. Mark Ruffalo does an excellent job playing an emotionally repressed alcoholic, while Keira Knightley goes from being an eternal optimist to eventually becoming a bit of a cynic with ease.

The two of them play off each other perfectly, as Mark and Keira's chemistry is arguably the heart of this feature. However, the thing that amazes me the most about this story is that you never quite know where it's going to take you. One moment, you'll think you know where the story is going, but then it takes a complete one eighty to go somewhere else.

It's actually kind of refreshing in this day and age, where most movies always seem to take a cliched predictable path that it can sometimes come off as boring. Thankfully, "Begin Again" doesn't settle for any cheap Hollywood cliches, nor does it try to cater to mainstream moviegoers. Instead, John Carney simply focuses on telling an original story, and it pays off quite well.

"Begin Again" may not be the highest grossing film of 2014, but it's definitely one of the best of this year. Definitely worth checking out in theaters if you haven't already.

© 2014 Steven Escareno

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Comments 6 comments

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Thanks for this well written review. I wasn't sure I would like this film. However, after reading your review, I am eager to view this. Up and sharing.


chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 2 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

I like your separate rating and summary idea, gives me a flavour of the movie and your detailed appraisal let's me know how you feel about it all. Nice job. Good knowledge. Look forward to reading more.

Votes and a share.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

Sounds like my kind of film. I will definitely look out for this one when I check out my next Love film titles. Nice classy review, thanks for sharing.


DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

Wow a 10/10! I've got to check this out.


Nidhi Pandey profile image

Nidhi Pandey 2 years ago from New Delhi

The tagline of this movie "You're as strong as your next move" itself making it interesting and your review has added cherry on its top, will sure going to watch this one .. Thanks for sharing


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 2 years ago Author

@vocalcoach Thanks. I'm glad I could help, and hopefully you'll like the film when you see it.

@ chef de-jour- Thanks. I'm glad you liked the review also. Yeah, I just came up with this format this year in large part because of a friend of mine. Originally i used to grade movies on a four star scale. However, he's convinced me to switch over to a 10. Of course, I took things a bit further by adding a pros and cons list in addition to the review. I figured it would be a lot nicer that way. Anyways, thanks for stopping by, as I'll certain try my best not to disappoint you.

@sallybea- Thanks Sally. I'm glad I could help. :)

@Dealforaliving- Yup. Trust me, if you're getting tired of the same old crap Hollywood churns out these days, then you'll definitely love this one. Anyways, thanks for stopping by.

@Nidhi Pandey- Your welcome, and thanks for visiting my hub to read it. I hope you enjoy the movie whenever you get a chance to see it.

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