Every now and then a film comes along that is full of such sincerity that it makes you want to tell the nearest passer-by that everything is going to be just fine. John Carney’s Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, goes someway to proving that theory. It isn’t a game changer, but whatever it lacks it makes up forwith an eclectic cast, and plenty of sincerity and humour.
Greta (Knightley) is a talented songwriter who finds herself suddenly alone in New York City when her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine, sporting a hilarious range of ridiculous facial hair) makes it big and dumps her. A serendipitous encounter with former record exec-cum-professional alcoholic Dan (Ruffalo), in a dingy New York open mic, proves a catalyst for them both. They craft a musical partnership, but they also help to piece each other’s lives back together.
Ruffalo and Knightley are great here. Ruffalo is particularly funny, and his fuzzed-out, cynical gruffness perfectly complements Knightley’s more timid delicateness, who remains both subtle and effervescent throughout. Their relationship is one of the more refreshing aspects of Begin Again, and gratefully never panders to schmaltz. They are a joy to watch, and their dynamic is part of the reason this film works so well.
The original songs that are such a heavy feature are never spectacular, but do a good impression of what is currently trending on alt-rock radio. The compositions are assured, and they work well with the visual accompaniment, although sometimes the musical moments, while true to life, can come across as a little static.
Written and directed by John Carney, Begin Again effectively mixes an indie sensibility with the polished sheen of mainstream rom-coms: funny, musical, but most importantly, filled with sincere performances from a talented and highly watchable cast.
Begin Again is released nationwide on 11th July 2014.
Watch the trailer for Begin Again here: