Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Movie Review - Begin Again

Begin Again (2014)
Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Cee-Lo Green, Mos Def, and Catherine Keener
Directed by John Carney

The shadow of John Carney's fantastic film Once hangs above his latest flick Begin Again and unfortunately, the comparisons don't work in this 2014's film's favor.  Everything from the story to the music to the emotional heart lack when Begin Again is stacked up next to Once.  There's no resonating feeling upon the conclusion of this Keira Knightley-Mark Ruffalo starrer, instead emanating a feeling of light fluff that we've seen before numerous times.

Knightley is Gretta, a songwriter, who moves to New York with her singer boyfriend Dave (Maroon 5's Adam Levine) after one of his tunes hits the charts in a big way after being featured on a movie soundtrack.  Unfortunately, as is seemingly de rigueur for that profession, Dave cheats on Gretta while on a promotional tour and Gretta walks out on him.  Saddened, she finds herself in a bar in which her friend Steve (James Corden) convinces her to sing one of her tunes to the public.

While her song doesn't go over too well, it's a hit with Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a just fired long-time music executive who was drowning his sorrows in liquor.  However, upon hearing Gretta's tune, he finds himself reinvigorated to join the workforce again.

Obviously, Gretta's and Dan's stories merge, but there ultimately isn't that much payoff.  The film goes pretty much exactly where we expect it go.  (Some who've watched the film may argue with that assessment, but I thought it was the only logical way it could go for these characters.)  Unfortunately, neither Gretta nor Dan is all that interesting and while I appreciated their desire to create music for the masses eschewing the corporate bigwigs, their tale just felt empty.

Although the cast is good -- Ruffalo and Knightley are charming and Knightley in particular is really coming into her own as of late in the acting department -- they can't liven up the story enough.  The music, although perfectly acceptable, isn't all that fantastic either.  For a movie ensconced in the music industry, I feel like I should want to download a song or two at the film's conclusion and that didn't happen -- although, admittedly, I did add one song to my iTunes wish list so it may happen eventually.

Perhaps it's unfair to compare this film to Once.  Even if it is, Begin Again is nothing better than average.  Pleasant, but trite.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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