Wednesday, December 3, 2014

BEGIN AGAIN

Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley,
Adam Levine, Catherine Keener

"You're Only as Strong as
Your Next Move"


John Carney, the director of the much acclaimed indie movie "Once" presents us with a similar story but with better actors and better songs. I have to admit I didn't really like "Once" for the acting skills of the leads were a major turn off. Yes, granted that he got non-professionals to play the roles but still it didn't move me as much as I expected it to.

Well good thing that "Begin Again" had Mark Ruffalo in it and even though the plot is a bit predictable, his mere presence made it all worth while. As the title implies, it is a movie about second chances and the opportunity to make wrong things, right.

After Dave (Adam Levine) lands a major record deal with a label in New York, he and his music songwriter/girlfriend Gretta (Keira Knightley) move to the Big Apple. As it usually happens, Dave gets eaten up by the fame, glory as well as infidelity and shortly after leaves Gretta all alone. Literally and figuratively since Dave has hooked up with someone else and Gretta now faces a lonely existence in a city where she hardly knows anyone. Except for one musician friend named Steve. He manages to convince her to perform her song at a small gig.

Coincidentally, a down on his luck, music executive portrayed by Mark Ruffalo named Dan is in the audience and is immediately captured by her raw talent. Dan is not really in a good place, he has been disgraced at work and he has to deal with a cheating wife. Yet he believes he has found the next best new artist in the person of Gretta and he goes all out to record, market and promo her single.

The film showcases their encounters and adventures as they record her song in various sights in the city that never sleeps. Their conversations are polite and they maintain a professional relationship throughout their sessions. Even as we see them dealing with their personal life in the sidelines. 

I like how they were able to maintain a platonic relationship even though there was a certain attraction between them, they never acted on them. Their chemistry was evident but it was good they took the unconventional route and didn't end up as a couple. They both have some deep personal wounds that needed time to heal and it is just right they maintain a good working partnership without the trappings of romance hindering their goals.

It was refreshing to hear Keira Knightley' singing voice and watch her playing the guitar. Although it wasn't a strong tone, she still kept it in tune. Adam Levine from the Maroon 5 band was authentic in his portrayal as basically a jerk. He sometimes gives out that vibe even though we all know that his antics on "The Voice" are mostly scripted. Mark Ruffalo is a much underrated actor but he can do no work in my books. I've always been a big fan of his work both as an actor and a vocal advocate for climate change and the protection of the environment.

I liked "Begin Again" better than "Once". It kept things as real and realistic as can be. A film about moving onward despite numerous challenges which can bring anyone down yet choosing not to quit  but to face them, head on. In the process, a renewed mind, body and soul emerges and suddenly life doesn't seem as dim as we anticipated it to be. 

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