Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Begin Again

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After Dan is fired from his music label, he hits the bottle. But the bar he walks into is where he meets Greta – a young musician who shows promise.
Of all the bars he could have staggered in to, this one is about to change his life forever.
A strong musical partnership kicks off which sees the pair go into recording an album together. And along the way they will both learn some important lessons – in music, life and love.

 

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Cast

Keira Knightley – Greta

Mark Ruffalo – Dan Mulligan

Catherine Keener – Miriam

Adam Levine – Dave Kohl

Hailee Steinfeld – Violet

CeeLo Green – Troublegum

James Corden – Steve

 

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Nice

That was actually a really nice little movie.
Begin Again wasn’t overcooked and dramatic, neither was it boring or a total wash-out. It was just a simple film with a simple concept. So it might not be the ‘movie of the summer’, but it definitely made me feel good (I’m thinking this is what they mean by a ‘feel good film’ you know.

The story follows Dan and Greta on their quest for success; which actually turns out to be a message: “just go for it, follow your passions”.
As the pair learn lessons from the shit events that have taken place in their lives, they form a lovely tight bond. But unlike many other movies where the lead male porks the female just because he now knows her inside out and wishes to discover her inside as well as out, this particular couple are focused solely on their music careers, and the only organs being strummed by their fingers are musical instruments. We watch as Dan takes Greta under his wing and the two of them embark on a musical journey, recording songs in live outdoor situations (a back alleyway where they use little kids playing ball as backing vocals, Greta crooning as she and her recording crew ride a boat down a river, even blasting out a tune on the underground subway) in creation of their first album.

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Relationship issues run alongside the pair, with Greta’s turbulent break-up with boyfriend Dave (Lavine) and Dan’s emotional ‘distant father’ image to his daughter – but these issues act more of an undercurrent, running through the movie yet not becoming the main feature. I liked this aspect of Begin Again; director John Carney brings us a movie where what the characters want is the prime target – he doesn’t drown the audience in tears, tantrums and lawyers. Which let’s face it, is exactly what many other directors have an irritating habit of doing (lengthy father-daughter talks on park benches, etc.). So yes, you get to witness one or two few minute bursts of, “you’re a distant father, she needs you to be there for her” etc. – but then the movie continues with the fun stuff. It really isn’t bad at all, it’s watchable stuff.

 

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Levine’s Lift-Off

I couldn’t help thinking as I sat watching Adam Levine up on stage, strumming a guitar and singing in that kind of bearable howling style, “wow. This might get him a few more downloads”.
Yes, I know what the movie is about and how he is a musician himself – it just seemed like a bit of a promotional push for him at certain points. That said, the guy delivered his character effortlessly and his on-screen presence with Keira was incredibly natural.

I always wonder that about famous singers; if they can act. It’s all very well having singers in movies as characters, but aside from doing what they do as a job on screen, are they able to act well enough? Adam wasn’t bad at all, however much of a snidey publicity plug it seemed. Cheeky boy.
I will add for the ladies (and certain gents) that he’s quite a pant-dampner in places. One scene sees him sat talking with Greta in the park – my eyes could look nowhere else but his undercarriage. Tree trunk thighs, long thick legs in black lace-up boots..
That is one hot slice of male clunge.

 

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Be Careful What You Work For

Begin Again has a great way of emphasising how intense people become in their jobs or interests. Near the beginning of the movie, Dan’s life blows up in his face – family, career, it all goes tits-up. But even after walking out of the other side, he ends up meeting Greta and dives into a crazy plan to record her first album with her. Their passion for music literally takes over as they produce their work, becoming less about liking music and more about feeling it. And as the volume is increased, so does Dan and Greta’s relationship.

One scene surprised me; when Greta is listening to a song her boyfriend Dave has made for her, she looks up at him halfway through – and a revelation is made, resulting in explosive consequences. Passion for music consumed Greta to the point of being able to feel what Dave was thinking as he sang the lyrics, like a mind reader. It was all very deep. On the vocal side, Keira is actually not bad. She has a very soft undertone to her voice which makes for very easy listening. I can imagine listening to her at 2am to help soothe a car journey – that kind of voice.
She’s no X Factor finalist, but the girl knows how to carry a note or two. Well done to her.

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Oh, see if you can spot the over-enthusiastic musician who plays along in the background behind Greta. Dan and her employ this female to play the violin, and she delivers a lot more. As Greta stands singing, the violinist behind her mouths the words at the same time – so passionately, it’s as though she’s the one singing!
Enthusiasm isn’t the word. See if you can spot what I’m talking about.

 

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Begin Again is a charming, witty piece of cinema. It might not win awards, but it will win hearts.
With its simple concept, good script, and very observant humour, this movie displays clear messages of passion and dedication whilst ensuring it doesn’t go overboard with the performances given by all.
I honestly thought I would hate this movie but found it rather endearing.
Love it when that happens.

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This entry was posted on July 13, 2014 by .
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