Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW: Begin Again

Begin Again

Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo


June 27, 2014 (LIMITED)
July 2, 2014 (WIDE)

John Carney

The Weinstein Company

1 hour 44 minutes



I'm not going to lie: I had no idea what to feel about John Carney's "Begin Again" when it ended. I sort of sat there in a state of disbelief, pondering my thoughts on the 104 minute film that had just presented itself in front of me. I knew I enjoyed the movie, for starters, but I wasn't sure how much I enjoyed it. This wasn't a movie that particularly grabbed me until about 30 or 40 minutes into it, and from there I had a smile on my face and my feet were tapping to the songs. And then, the movie ended, and again I had the same feeling that was in my chest during the beginning of the movie. In a state of disbelief, I began to think about how the movie impacted me. And in short, it impacted me a lot more than I initially thought. While some out there immediately knew they loved this movie, I didn't. The reason why I didn't know what to think of it was because it touched more than my mind, it touched my soul in a way where it left me in disbelief. The performances, the music, and the story all left a lasting impression on me that even now I'm still digesting fully.

Keira Knightley is a radiant ball of life as Greta, a woman who only has a guitar and a singing voice to her name as her boyfriend dumped her due to the temptations of success in the music industry.  Not only does Knightley impress with an incredibly emotional and realistic performance, but she also possesses a raw singing talent last seen with Oscar Isaac in "Inside Llewyn Davis."  Mark Ruffalo impresses here as well as Dan, a man who has nothing and has practically given up on life.  His performance is as entertaining as it is realistic, enthusiastic, and really good overall.  Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld,  and James Cordon are among the actors who all deliver good performances here and fit their roles very well.  Cee Lo Green even shows up for a couple of scenes and manages to be awesome and very charismatic as an actor.  Knightley and Ruffalo might be the two most memorable performances here, but everyone in this film is solid in their own right in general.

In terms of original music, the soundtrack to "Begin Again" is possibly the best of the year thus far.  What I like so much about the songs in this movie is that they all capture different emotions effectively and are incredibly catchy to listen to.  Some tunes like "Coming Up Roses" are upbeat and very energetic, while others like "Lost Stars" capture a hauntingly beautiful side of the characters who sing it.  Since seeing the film, I have downloaded the soundtrack and have listened to it repeatedly, which is a rare thing for me actually.  If there's anything here that I can considered to be the "best thing" about this film, it's definitely the upbeat and magical soundtrack.

Director/screenwriter John Carney has effectively made a movie that is both touching and full of soul.  The story itself might be predictable, but the characters are relatable and fascinating.  The film's message about seeing the true potential in something instead of just selling out to the modern crap that's thrown out there can be applied to both films and music as well.  Movies like this and "Chef" show what films can really be like if people invest their time and money into a good story with good characters and a feel-good element to it instead of 3D explosions with hot girls wearing short shorts.  This film I could honestly see becoming something of a modern classic in the sense that, when looked back on, people will think highly of this gem.  "Begin Again" is something of a magical array of music, great acting, and a solid story that captures the soul of true artists at work.


The Best of Me


This Is Where I Leave You

And So It Goes

Get on Up

St. Vincent

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I'm more interested in seeing it now. I was on the fence about it but Keira Knightly is a great actress and I loved her in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice.


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