Begin Again is a film about a down-and-out music label owner finding hidden talent in the form of a heart-broken acoustic musician. The film features several musical performances from Keira Knightly, James Corden and the man with the most beautiful voice in the world, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. However, compared to similar release Inside Llewyn Davis which also contains many musical performances, Begin Again felt more like a film of album fillers, rather than cultured classics.
The film’s premise is a tried and tested formula: two people going through some trouble find each other totally by chance and change each other’s lives. Keira Knightly had just been cheated on by her musical boyfriend, Adam Levine, whilst Mark Ruffalo has separated from his wife and lives away from his daughter. As one may expect, by the end of the film, much of this has been resolved, and the birds are singing much sweeter, but the film disappoints. The film has many points to shine but the potential was always lost. The film was always easy to watch, if you ignored the several cringe-worthy lines of dialogue, and there was breif showings of both comedy and emotion. However, these moments were much too sporadic and were generally not taken full advantage of.
The film disappoints in several areas but the one I’ve decided to focus on is it’s contrasting relationship with authenticity. During an early scene in which the two leads talk about the authenticity that Knightly’s character feels is so vital in the music business, her beer bottle is obviously filled with water. This is obviously not a problem but is indicative of the feeling of the film. Despite the fact that film’s music is billed as a ‘tribute to this beautiful, god-damn crazy, fractured mess of a city; New York’, the film feels detached from reality. Times such as when Ruffalo’s character drafts in a squabble of children off the street to do backing vocals on a track feel especially falsified. Not only does the concept of the invitation feel both tacky and artificial, the singing itself is blatantly not from the children featured, taking the authentic feel out of the scene.
The film is not helped by the majority of it’s cast. Keira Knightly, I feel, was chosen for two reasons: firstly, she would put people into seats, and secondly, she kind of fits the indie-acoustic image that is popular at the moment. She is not a poor choice, but hardly puts in an inspiring performance. She pouted very well throughout. Neither does her co-lead, the Incredible Hulk himself, Mark Ruffalo. His characther is a drunk lay-about, whose back-story shows his hidden talent blah-blah-blah, who you are meant to find charming in a Robert-Downey-Jnr-esque role. However, this doesn’t quite hit the right notes, leaving the watcher wanting to like the character, but unable to.
In complete contrast, James Corden’s introduction into the fray was a breath of fresh air. His casualty made it feel like the other actors had been acting. The first laugh of the film (which took almost an hour to come) was also attributed to Corden, as did the majority of the film’s infrequent subsequent laughs. Adam Levine played the complete opposite in a very cardboard performance, which is made much, much worse by the hideous moustasche he sports for some of the film. I was very thankful that he got several opportunities to showcase his true talents such as in his performance of ‘Lost Stars’, which he makes work (without excelling). Said song will be linked at the bottom of this post.
So overall this hasn’t been a glowing review. The film isn’t awful, but is not a good film. Many people will get enjoyment from it thanks to the bright nature of the scenery and the musical accompaniment and some will even leave the cinema singing. However, I did neither. ★ ★
Image courtesy of awesomeitv.com