Begin Again (2013) Poster

(II) (2013)

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Keira can sing! Nice feel good movie about music making today
phd_travel3 July 2014
This is a feel good movie about musicians making an album. Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley play producer and song writer who team up to make a demo filmed all over the city. The songs are pleasant and the characters are sympathetic and likable even Hailee Steinfeld as Mark's daughter. There is a nice dynamic between the characters which makes the movie enjoyable to watch. There is almost as much music as a musical but it doesn't feel much like a musical.

Who knew Keira could sing so well? She doesn't have the most powerful voice but her singing is musical and right for the type of songs. Mark looks suitably scruffy for the fallen on hard times composer. Nice cameo by Ceelo Green and Adam Levine who sings quite a few songs.

Movies like this are pleasant and uplifting to watch - if you want a break from action or violence of summer blockbusters.
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Don't judge a book...
ninjaphil20 July 2014
John Carney is one of the few people working in movies today whose next work I am always eager to see. Along with a few others such as Richard Linklater, he has proved to me that you can take a premise which has been explored many times before and view it from a different perspective to create something that feels original and fresh. His previous work 'Once' did this and is among my favourite films.

Suffice to say, when I saw the trailer for Begin Again it simply did not grab me. My first worry was that it looked 'too Hollywood' (read as 'cliche and predictable movie churned out to make money with little care or thought for the story it is telling'). I felt a little worried going in to see the film that somehow Mr. Carney had fallen foul of the big producers, making sacrifices to the story in order to get some 'names' into it.

However, around 20 minutes in, my hopes returned and I knew it was going to be special... and it just got better from there. the film builds on the story and characters as it goes on, making me care about them, showing me things I had never seen before in similar movies and above all, making me think. As the credits rolled, I was wiping my eyes, partly from the wonderful soundtrack but mostly because Begin Again is a magical film. It still has the 'spark' that I felt in his previous pictures, a huge amount of love, passion and care that has brought it into being - not just a half baked idea thrown out there to pay back impatient investors. The soundtrack, performances and well-crafted script took me on an emotionally rewarding journey, leaving me feeling inspired, uplifted and a little nostalgic for times gone by. yep, I am gushing, but it really is going to be hard to beat for film of the year for me.

Between the scenes, I also loved how it discreetly touched on some important issues with throwaway lines, addressing things which people take for granted these days: 'Music is for the ears, not the eyes.' and 'don't dress like you are easy' being two of them. Image is so ingrained into art these days, the majority of people all seem to judge a book by it's cover without looking inside. And the same could be said for this film too. On the outside it looks like yet another generic, manufactured Pop Idol... but if you sit down and watch it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised that it has something profound to say and says it well.

Thought provoking, life affirming and highly recommended!
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Intelligent, Entertaining, Warm and exciting.
eland00118 July 2014
"A movie about modern advances dismantling the art industry as we know it by replacing the high-paid middle-men with IT, bringing artist closer to audience." Doesn't sound like a thrilling blurb, but this movie brings the story to live with incredible writing, great music, wonderful performances and a brilliant vision. Just like in "Once," this not-love-story side-steps the romance plot Hollywood usually uses like a crutch and focuses on the struggle and triumph or artistic endeavor. (most mainstream stories end with the message that the only happy ending ends in breeding. This tale recognizes the value of humankind's other creative capabilities.) Not that the film's all esoteric and above family. There are all kinds of emotional wounds we suffer in this life, in our families. Rather than a sub-plot focused on starting a family, this story's sub-plot focuses on both growing strong after a family fails (harder) and on repairing another failed family (hardest).

And that's all below the point.

Music! What wonderful music they used in this film, from the soundtrack to the original performances. The way they bring the performances and the creative process to life - the pain, the joy, the failures and triumphs - is just thrilling. This is the kind of film that will make you want to get up and MAKE STUFF. And then put it out there because you can. You don't need the middle-men anymore. You don't need the industry.

To create is the highest expression of humanity and so, perhaps, making art (like this film) that inspires creativity in others is yet a step above.
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If music be the food of love
nadia_van_cloce20 July 2014
Once again, Carney wins me.

I'll let the other reviewers introduce you to the characters and the plot, I'll just say this -- for me, this is a perfect movie. It took hold of me from the start, took me down to the depths, up to the heights, and never let me go until the last frame. Perfect execution: casting, performances, writing. The actors just nail it, especially Knightley and Ruffalo, though I would have liked to have seen more done with Catherine Keener.

I rarely watch movies twice, but there are people I want to share this with, and I ordered the soundtrack as soon as I returned home.

How will they finish this, I kept thinking toward the end. The answer? Perfectly.
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A refreshing film ...without explosions?
robertmayes217 July 2014
I knew virtually nothing about this film - hadn't even seen the trailer - when I drug my wife to see it last night, and we were both very pleasantly surprised. The characters are drawn in such a way that they are both like-able and relatable. In the end, the film builds emotion with the audience not by means of incredible stretches of the imagination, but through a gradually reinforced empathy. I have seen all the summer blockbusters, and the single largest failure in most of them is that they create shallow characters that the audience does not care about.

The dynamics used in this movie cause an engagement in the audience that is necessary in ANY film for it to be great. This one is not to be missed in the CGI-filled summer.
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Really a pleasant surprise - delightfully not full of cheese!
latinfineart11 July 2014
I was expecting a cheesy film. I am not into musicals so was hesitant to commit to this film, in a theatre. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I find some of Ruffalos work, like Now you see me, to be hard to sit through. I did not dislike that film, but I hated his performance. Part of it was how vapid the character was. In this film it is the opposite. He is charming, roguish, creative, and delightful to watch. Quite frankly I did not think Knightly was up to this either. Was I ever surprised. She was great. Well written, well directed, and very good overall. In these days of Hollywood losing its edge, and producing more and more low quality, derivative work, it is refreshing to see a film like this one. And I did not even need to use my earplugs. Transformer this film was not. Thankfully.
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For the music lovers.
swellframe173 July 2014
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

John Carney is back with a new musical. His 2006 film "Once" is one of my favorite films of all time and I was interested to see where Carney would go next. Watching the trailers for "Begin Again" didn't give me much hope for it, but just enough for me to go out and see it. I enjoyed it much more than I expected though.

"Begin Again" is very similar to "Once," except Carney has a bigger budget and famous movie stars. It deals with Dan and Greta (Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, respectively) who after being cheated on by their former boyfriend/girlfriend meet up and record some songs together. Ruffalo is great as the down on his luck, charming, but often drunk, music producer Dan. Knightley also has a solid performance. Adam Levine does a good job of being a jerk and James Corden is hilarious as Greta's busking friend Steve. The films has themes of love, fatherhood, and the way we use music in our lives.

"Begin Again" is for all the music lovers out there who enjoy creating music. The movie is filled with characters whose religion is music. Look at Dan's car and how he has a music cable hung up on the mirror next to a cross. There's a great moment when Dan listens to Greta perform for the first time. What is just a voice and guitar slowly grows into something much bigger and beautiful. The soundtrack is more poppy compared to the folk songs in "Once," but they are nice to listen to.

This film is the movie you kind of have to be in the mood for to really enjoy. It can be predictable and sappy at times, but it does it well. If you accept it for what it is, you'll enjoy it. "Begin Again" is a musical treat this summer that will leave you wanting to listen to more music and maybe even creating some of your own.
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Entertaining, creative and good characters
summerhike11 July 2014
First, I love that you put the song, Thinking About Your Love, by Skipworth and Turner, in this movie! I've always loved their songs, beat and talent. Great choice. The original music was also quite good! Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly were great, as well as his wife, Catherine Keener, who is always great, and the daughter, Hailee Steinfeld. I love the whole idea of the movie. I could imagine it was fun from the moment John Carney wrote it and set about making it in to a movie. The idea for an album is too clever. Toying with love interests also kept the movie intriguing as did the creative process that was always at work, throughout the movie. My number one judge of a good movie is did it hold my interest and this movie definitely did. I think another way of putting it would be, did the movie seem like it did not seem long, whatever the length of the movie, if it didn't seem long, then it worked, because you lost track of time by being drawn in to the story and characters. Great story and movie! I definitely recommend people go see it and hope it catches fire, because it's much better than most of the movies that are out this summer.
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The music in our lives
somf26 June 2014
I was a big fan of the group the Frames and was very excited when I learned about "Once" directed by John Carney and starring Glen Hasard both members of the Frames. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it had an almost documentary like feel to it. Begin again for me was a statement about how music affects our lives and how different songs can take on different meanings for all of us. For my wife and myself , Ben Folds the Luckiest has a special meaning in our relationship, to most others, it is just another song.

I loved how Begin Again opens with a rather banal sounding song being sung by Kiera Knightly in a small nightclub as Ruffalo stands enthralled. Then for the next 15 minutes we discover why.

The movie uses music in that way several times and I felt it really worked. Your enjoyment of the film will probably be greatly determined by what you think of the music. I happened to love it. Even that banal song soon takes on all new meaning. The entire cast is great and Ruffalo certainly delivers one of his strongest performances.

I have not seen Words and Pictures. My limited knowledge of the film is that it might have a similar theme when it comes to music in our lives. This is a little feel good movie. The kind of film that is a welcome respite in Summer blockbuster season. Last year we had the Way Way back to fill this niche. This year is is Begin Again.
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Extramly underrated
dhavaljiya22 September 2018
This movie helped me get through a phase in a life and definitely helped me .love it yes it has its flows but whatever
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Danckersen30 September 2018
Those that are trashing this beautifully done film, need to take a Xanax. Not many are this full of incredible music, GREAT writing AND WONDERFUL acting. Thanks to the entire crew! Marvelous job! Enjoy! You MAY even shed a a good way.
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Loved this movie!
wanda-0134013 January 2017
A few years ago, Mr Shullivan & I went to New York and booked tickets to see 'Once'. Absolutely loved it - the show and the music! We then watched the movie version directed by John Carney - and it was great as well! When we happened to see a clip for 'Begin Again', with John Carney directing, I asked Mr Shullivan to get us this movie to watch at home - and I have no regrets!

Enjoyed the music during the film (and we even watched the bonus features on the DVD and I asked Mr. Shullivan to get the soundtrack!). And the music stayed with me even after the movie. I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed Kiera Knightley's singing as well as her acting performance. And I thoroughly enjoyed both her version of 'Lost Stars' and Adam Levine's!

Mark Ruffalo's performance as Dan was great - he showed the range of emotion you'd expect in the part he was playing - a jaded, down in the dumps record executive who gets a turnaround through the movie by his chance meeting with Gretta (Keira Knightley's character).

Loved the opening sequences of the movie - showing the same scene from several different character's perspectives - but especially Dan's - when he re-imagines Gretta's song with added instruments and enhanced arrangements. Unique & riveting!

And finally, loved the album and film concept of taking it to the streets of New York - very enjoyable and very real!

I will want to see this movie again! And any other John Carney films!
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Great story, beautiful scenery, but listen for the fantastic musical score
Ed-Shullivan12 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Ahhhhhh, another evening well spent with Mrs. Shullivan. This is a feel good film that was such a pleasant way to spend an evening forgetting the troubles in the world for a few hours. Mark Ruffalo stars as Dan, a former successful record producer who has fallen into a deep slump both in his business and personal life. Dan is separated from his wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) and rarely sees his teenage daughter Viloet (Hailee Steinfeld).

Dan's business partner Saul (Mos Def/Yasiin Bey) has just fired Dan for more than one reason. As a record producer Dan still has an old soul for music. Before firing Dan, Saul asked Dan when was the last time he had a hit. I think Dan would have preferred to respond to his old partner by stating "this morning". But Dan would be responding as if he had heard Saul ask when was the last time he had a $hit, and not a hit.

After being fired, Dan is binge drinking when a stranger on the subway hands him a pamphlet telling Dan that God is with him. Immediately after getting off the subway Dan stumbles into yet another music bar and he has an epiphany. He hears an angel singing named Gretta (Keira Knightley) and Dan envisions more than just Gretta on her acoustic guitar. This scene is both rare and memorable for both Mrs. Shullivan and myself. You see (actually the bar patrons don't see) Dan envisions in his mind while Gretta is singing solo on the stage, Gretta playing with the accompaniment of a full orchestra, which includes a drummer, guitarists, violin and a cello.

Of course Dan cannot resist introducing himself to Gretta and advises her that she is going to become famous with her songwriting and singing. The film evolves with Gretta and Dan sharing their most personal pains which include their relationships that have dissolved. Gretta's old boyfriend who she lived with for five (5) years was a singer named Dave (Adam Levine) whose career has just skyrocketed when Gretta discovers that Dave has been cheating on her with a girl named Mimi. Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley brought their characters to life. They were so entertaining with their very strong performances, their personal relationship that it will bring the audience close to one another hoping for a happy ending. Music is life, and life is music.

As they say, "if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger". So Gretta continues with her songwriting and she wants the downtrodden Dan to produce her first album. So a new journey begins when Dan's old business partner declines to produce Gretta's album so Dan recommends to Gretta that they produce the album on the city streets and landscapes of New York city as their sound stage. Gretta's only friend in New York a former London lad named Steve (James Corden) agrees to be their sound man for the album, and Dan enlists the financial assistance of an old client named Troublegum (Cee Lo Green) to hire a drummer and a lead guitarist.

Through the making of their first album, Dan brings in the rest of the musicians which include a keyboard, violin, cello, and even his daughter Violet strums a mean base guitar solo. The songs that Gretta sings around the streets and building tops of New York city are stunning both visually and through the music score are captivating songs. Much credit must be given to writer/director John Carney whose previous body of work includes the 2007 musical film Once, and the 2016 musical film Sing Street. If you see the name John Carney in any film credit there is a much stronger possibility of a hit film. You won't go wrong with Begin Again which is a beautiful, melodic, warm and a feel good film.

It is deserving of a 9 out of 10 rating.
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Serviceable story, technically decent, but falls short
MaximumCheese2 February 2015
I really tried to like this movie. It had all of the elements of success: a great cast, excellent production, and a solid premise.

However, it just couldn't win me over and ultimately fell flat.

The biggest beef I had with the movie, and admittedly this is a very subjective matter, is that if you're going to make a movie like this, the music must at least be good. I don't consider myself to be a music elitist; I can appreciate most forms of music. However, the music (presumably) written for the movie is bland and quickly forgettable. I'm not sure what scene the music is trying to appeal to, but it seems to me like all of it was written by committee, being as generic and inoffensive as possible, all the while having no real melody.

The story also suffered from poor writing in several spots. Plot contrivances abound, and the end of the movie is equally puzzling and underwhelming.
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Can't believe the high ratings!
user-224-41643228 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
For a movie about trying not to be cliché and cheesy, it was just that. From the portrayal of the cliché music company exec who says, "Capiche," to the all white group of alley kids extorting cigarettes suddenly cooperating to sing background vocals. The daughter, whose mother says is "Terrible" on guitar suddenly plays like Hendrix? Please! This movie was cliché after cliché and held no integrity for its art like it professed in its story. I'm puzzled at how others were able to offer such high ratings for such a ho-hum effort. Either insider connections trying to hype their friends' work or hired review writers. Not sure. Half a star for the story + half a star for the song.
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An Un-authentic Movie about Authenticity
randbish30 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
John Carney pulled off a miracle with ONCE, a romantic fable fueled by charming acting performances and genuinely beautiful and passionate, original music. In my recollection, it is the one and only film that made me cry — not solely because I cared so much for its characters, but because I didn't want my all-too-brief glimpse into their world to end. The fact that Carney pulled this off for a paltry $100,000 resulting in an Academy Award winning song and a Broadway musical only makes his feat that much more miraculous.

So, I was eagerly anticipating BEGIN AGAIN. Maybe my expectations were too high. You can't fault the acting performances in Carney's second peek into the world of contemporary music. Mark Ruffalo is, as always, multi-layered and heartfelt. His plight, as an alcoholic, divorced A&R man/failed father on the skids is vividly drawn. And, if those personal flaws weren't enough to doom his career, his idealistic, bull-headed insistence on working with "authentic" artists in an era of derivative, technologically manufactured music pushes him right up to the edge of precarious cliff.

And, here is exactly where film dooms itself. In Ruffalo's Dan and Keira Knightly's Gretta, Carney has written two characters who refuse to compromise the integrity of their work. This conceit demands that the script, the casting, and the entire ambiance of the film be authentic -- which it simply isn't.

In ONCE, the lead actors Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova were real, professional singer/songwriters. They wrote and performed their own songs with complete conviction. To play Gretta, Knightly had to "learn" guitar, which she mimes, but only barely. Her voice is unexceptional, not one that would believably attract Dan to risk his last chance on. And, most importantly, BEGIN AGAIN's songs are at best okay, in total unremarkable.

The idea that Gretta and this thrown-together band could actually record state-of-the-art live performances in public places in New York City is technically possible, but pragmatically preposterous. And, if Dan is truly striving for authenticity, recording Gretta in a cheap digital format would be the last way he would go.

Movies about music performance and production are, more often than not, shot without much attention to how it really happens. Directors usually get away with it because the public at large doesn't know any better. Cameron Crowe's brilliant ALMOST FAMOUS is an example of a film that absolutely nailed it. It's disappointing to see a film that pontificates about authenticity, yet fails so miserably to achieve it.

The fine actors in this film all have their moments. Regardless of her musical shortcomings, Knightly exudes enormous charm. Adam Levine is surprisingly genuine and believable. Up and comer Hailee Steinfeld and the invariably wonderful Catherine Keener are excellent. The most-deft supporting performance is turned in by Mos Def.

I do have to complement Carney that his script resists the temptation to allow Dan and Gretta to succumb to their obvious attraction to one another. However, for Gretta to choose to virtually "give" downloads of her album away for a dollar states nothing. It only reinforces the old saying, "I bought it for a song." Music is a treasure that should be valued. Music enriches our lives. There is no integrity in an "artist" giving his or her work away, especially after a group of dedicated musicians (with a piece of the back end) devoted so much sweat equity into realizing those songs.

With BEGIN AGAIN, John Carney has once again proved he is capable of writing charming characters and excellent dialog. Let's hope he endeavors to take his next story outside of the music business.
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For the love of music.
santiagocosme15 December 2014
I don't love movies that are about music bands. I always get bored of all the scenes where a supposed artist is on stage singing a song to the masses and everybody sings along as if it was a hit, but the song is absolute rubbish. That in itself is enough for me to stop watching a movie.

Surprisingly enough, in this movie, they a did a pretty good job with the songwriting. Some of the songs are quite enjoyable, and they make the story a little more believable. But hold on! What story? A girl who gets dumped by her emerging star boyfriend meets an exec guy from the music industry who falls in love with her singing. And they both spend the whole movie recording her songs around NY city to release an album at the end. That's it....if anything else happened, please let me know.

I normally take points away for the music, in this case I give points for it. Without the music it would be a 4...
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A charming, largely effective twist on a tale that's been told many times before.
shawneofthedead5 July 2014
You've seen it all before. Strictly speaking, Begin Again doesn't have the most original of story lines - movies, specifically romantic comedies and sports movies, have long built their predictable happy endings out of opposites attracting, spinning tales of Disillusioned Person A finding inspiration from Disillusioned Person B, and vice versa. The fact that this film comes with added original music isn't even that much of an innovation - writer-director John Carney did the same thing in Once, his own much-beloved musical romance from 2006. But, for all that, Begin Again remains appealing because it refuses to settle comfortably into any one genre. Funny, dramatic, romantic and platonic, the film navigates its cast of characters with much skill and tenderness.

Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a mess: once a groundbreaking executive of his own indie record label, he's floundering helplessly in a life he no longer recognises. He's alienated his wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) and teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld), and his partner Saul (Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def) has just fired him. Musically-inclined Greta (Keira Knightley) isn't having all that great a time of it either: she moved to New York with her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine), but he's too busy having his head turned by fame and other girls as he hits the big time. When Dan hears Greta singing in a rundown bar, he resolves to make music with her - even if no one else believes he can do it.

When examined in its broadest strokes, Begin Again isn't anything special. There's never any doubt that this story will turn out well, that its protagonists will help each other move out of their dark romantic pasts. Its deliberately quirky-cute plot veers frequently towards the corny and predictable, as Dan and Greta set about making the indie-est of indie albums, guerrilla-style on the streets of New York. Of course they'll meet like-minded, kooky people who help them achieve their goal. And yes, Dan will find a way to bond with Violet in the process, just as Greta figures out just what she wants (or doesn't want) from her relationship with Dave.

But Begin Again is a far better film in its details, largely because Carney lavishes a lot of thought, love and hope on his characters. Dan, for one, grows as the film does, the layers of hurt and anger shrouding him and his bad choices slowly peeling away to reveal the damaged soul hiding beneath. There's even something unexpectedly rich about the interaction between Greta and stereotypical bastard boyfriend Dave: he is every bit the jerk he appears on screen, and yet, Carney lends credence to their relationship with some genuinely emotional moments, anchored by a song she writes for him (Lost Stars). Greta's time with Dave, Carney seems to suggest, is not wasted, even if her trust in him might be misplaced. That's an unusually complex thought for a film that's so apparently slight.

The way the film ends, too, comes as a welcome surprise. Unlike the more vapid rom-coms for which it might be easily mistaken, Begin Again chooses to focus on a deeper kind of love story. The love that Dan and Greta eventually share is of a pleasingly unique kind - a connection that isn't romantic or, at least, not purely so. They are also friends and kindred spirits: relationships that typically get short shrift the moment a guy and a girl are placed in the same scene together.

Having scored a hit with Once, Carney can now afford big-name Hollywood actors. Fortunately, he also chose A-list actors who have quite enough skill and charisma to make the hokier parts of the script work. Ruffalo again manages to lend Dan, a generally rumpled mess of rage, his own innate charm and sweetness. Even at his most reprehensible, Dan - in Ruffalo's hands - feels more like a lost soul than an unforgivable one. Knightley makes up for her less-than-arresting singing voice with her most sympathetic performance in ages. James Corden turns in an amusing performance as Greta's hapless panhandling friend Steve, although Keener - a fine character actress - is robbed of the opportunity to lend Miriam more depth (especially considering a revelation that comes later in the film).

Better in its execution than conception, Begin Again is an amiably tough-minded twist on a plot you've seen a thousand times before. The film never really reaches spectacular heights, nor does it re-invent the wheel. But it's a smart, sweet and mostly very effective take on a story that could have been a hundred times more predictable and cloying. That, in itself, is quite the achievement.
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Sentimental Comedy Overwhelmed with Unmemorable Tunes
l_rawjalaurence22 July 2016
Sometimes you just know when a film isn't for you. This is not the same experience as watching a "bad" film, with deficiencies of script, characterization and directorial technique. The issue centers over questions of taste: what viewers expect from a film and what they are actually presented with.

This is certainly the case with John Carney's BEGIN AGAIN. The plot is straightforward: Brit expat Gretta (Keira Knightley) has a long- term relationship with Dave (Adam Levime) which crashes on the rocks when Dave is catapulted to stardom and has a brief fling with publicist Mim (Jennifer Li). Gretta meets accidentally with washed- up producer Dan (Mark Ruffalo) in a New York bar, and after an iffy start, the two of them agree to produce a do-it-yourself album of Gretta's songs, with the help of amateur musicians, Dan's daughter Violet (Hailee Stanfield), and some of Dan's acquaintances in the music business. The plot is an old one, a recycling of the "Let's Put on a Show" genre historically associated with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals of the Thirties.

The leading actors try their best with a shallowly-written script, but nonetheless Ruffalo's Dan comes across as someone entirely responsible for his own decline due to impatience and a fondness for alcohol. Knightley's Gretta is a passive figure, although apparently a talented song-writer, and she really cannot sing.

Yet the potential for character-development is set aside in a film with far too many unmemorable musical numbers for its own good. On several occasions viewers yearn for the singing to end and the plot to resume.

There remain one or two incidental pleasures: Carney's use of New York locations communicates something of the city's infinite riches, although we could have done without the clichéd sequence in Times Square. James Corden rehearses his familiar role of a bouncy best friend (in his pre-LATE LATE SHOW incarnation).
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How is this movie getting decent reviews?
ahilliard19 July 2014
Everyone who scored this over a 6 should send ME $1 (inside movie factoid) for tricking me to sit through this contrived snore fest. The story was so unoriginal and the acting and script made it even worse. Ruffalo so overcooked his character you can't help but roll your eyes. If Keira flashed one more knowing "this is my sexy money shot" smirk, I was going to lose it. My wife thought the movie was decent and she walks out (seriously....10 minutes in to award winning movies she gets up and walks) on 9/10 good movies we attend. She's the barometer of reverse taste. As far as the positive comments on her singing, it was decent even though the music numbers looked fake. If you're up for 2 hrs of ultimate "meh" go for it.
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All Playing Together Like One Big Happy Family
Siebert_Tenseven12 September 2014
starred in films that were a bit more meaningful than this load of trash. Anyway, didn't the Partridge Family already cover this material in 4 seasons and 96 obnoxious television episodes featuring an annoying family performing in random venues as well as their garage? Don't the Cowsills get any credit here? At least the Archies were a cartoon band and didn't tarnish their acting careers like Ruffalo and Knightley do in this dreadful production. The guitarist twanging a collection of sour notes containing multiple special audio effects to hide the actual proficiency of musical talent made me cringe. And where is the tambourine player that I hear on nearly every song? I suppose this was a way for the everyone in the production to let loose and have a good time but it felt like having to watch a bad episode of The Monkees again and again. Hopefully this film and all the worn out conventions and superficial heart rending plot devices will take a nose dive with this so we never have to view this kind of entertainment ever again. At least the neck stubble and self importance of Adam Levine were offensive enough to let us see him for what he really is.
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Music Over Substance
j23830 January 2015
This movie has some great musical scenes, which are the film's best asset, but also the problem.

The plot's not that substantial, relationships ending/beginning, with discussions about selling out in the music industry. Nothing new here. Things always perk up when the music starts.

Everyone seems to play music really well without any apparent rehearsals. All the characters are cool and have a great rapport with one another. No one's shy about dancing. Could I call this anti-realism?

I almost felt someone took a porn script, substituted music for the sex, and made this film.
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Pleasant but insubstantial.
TheSquiss24 November 2014
I was late to the party on this one. Begin Again had a 'blink and you'll miss it' release and I did. It's not hard to see why: though it is warmly entertaining, it is, ultimately, flimsy and unmemorable.

Written and directed by John Carney, whose biggest hit to date remains 2006's Once, Begin Again shares a similar theme: a couple making music and discovering themselves.

Gretta (Keira Knightley) accompanies her musician boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) to New York when he signs a deal with a major record deal. But while the world glows for him, Gretta soon finds herself the first casualty of his new-found fame and wandering Manhattan alone, but for the company of old friend and busker, Steve (James Cordon). By chance, she is thrown together with disgraced record label executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) and, astounded by her raw talent, he signs her up for a quirky musical collaboration around New York City.

And therein lies my biggest issue with Begin Again: Dan is astounded by Gretta's talent, I wasn't. Yes, it is pleasant, her singing is easy on the ear and her lyrics are several ranks higher than the Cheeky Girls, but she's no Leonard Cohen.

Like Gretta's musical output, Begin Again is twee, easy and simple, it is moving wallpaper that doesn't cause any offence. We've seen it before, we've enjoyed it more and last time around, in Once, Carney didn't dilute it. It strikes me that Carney has poured this one out to satisfy the teeny audiences who were told they should have loved Once but just didn't get it.

Knightly is fine, Ruffalo is as good as ever, Cordon is slightly less over the top than usual. The plot is simple, the father/daughter subplot is obvious, everything is laid out very carefully for the audiences that need life explained fully for them to understand. Begin Again is all just a little bit plinky plonk, it is obvious and idealistic and, particularly in the instance of the family dancing sequence, plain embarrassing.

I love the idea of a group of musicians recording an album in the open around New York but there has to be a far better way of presenting it to the world.

Pleasant but insubstantial. Begin Again? Please don't.

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I hope you can stay awake.
mgould2314 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The reviews on IMDb give this film a reasonable rating. Given that I went to see on the big screen. Sorry folks but it is 100 minutes long and seemed like a week. There is nothing good I can say about it, to say it was awful would be about right. Keira Knightly is so bad in this film, it makes me wonder if she has any acting ability at all. I am yet to see her give a decent performance. If this film had to be made, then she was miscast. It is a straight to DVD TV film, in other words a waste of nearly two hours.

There are thousands of better stories and better actors out there, I just get annoyed when one pays good money to watch this slush.
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"Once" twice: does lightning strike again?
paul-allaer15 July 2014
"Begin Again" (2013 release; 100 min.) brings the story of Greta (played by Keira Knightley) and Dan (played by Marc Ruffalo). As the movie opens, we find Greta reluctantly going on stage in a small bar venue to play a song, urged on by a friend. By complete coincidence Dan, a veteran of the music business, is in the audience, and loves what he's hearing. We later learn the background of how these two characters ended up in that very place, as things have not been going as planned (and I'm being mild). Dan tells her he wants to record an album with/for her. Along the way we get to know the side characters (Dan's wife and 14 yr. old daughter--both estranged from Dan), and Dave (played by Maroon 5's Adam Levine), Greta's boyfriend who has just hit the big time. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: as a general matter and contrary to apparently many other reviewers, I did not "fall" for this movie like I did for "Once", writer-director John Carney's previous tale of romance and music. In fact, when it comes down to it, this movie is nothing more that a re-imagined "Once", set in a different city and with different leads, but in the end it is nothing more than a variation of what we've already seen. Lightning does not strike again: as sincere and moving and impossible Once was, as contrived and unoriginal and self-evident Begin Again is. There are still a couple of great scenes in the movie, reason I'm giving it 5 stars out of 10, and which I cannot describe in more details so as not to give away anything.

And then just when you've think you've seen it all, comes the ending of the movie. Wow, just wow. The irony of it all. (For more details, please see my comments in the movie's discussion threat here on IMDb, under "The Ending (spoilers obviously)".
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