"Begin Again" Movie Review: 2 1/2 Stars
by Kenneth Turan
"Begin Again" is an insistent puppy of a movie, just about willing you to like it. And while it has appeal -- you'd have to be a troll to resist it completely -- you may end up wanting to enjoy it more than its qualities will allow.
For though both films are unapologetic fairy tales centering on the power of music to transform relationships, not to mention lives, "Begin Again" demonstrates that revisiting thematically similar material with bigger stars runs the risk of losing the qualities that made the idea so effective in the first place.
Knightley and Ruffalo are certainly much more accomplished actors than "Once's"
Anyone who enjoyed "Once" will be able to appreciate the talent director Carney has for making music cinematic and cinema musical. It's not only the appealing way Carney and cinematographer
Though its basic "music will save you" premise is simple, "Begin Again's" opening sections are a bit convoluted. It all starts with an open mic night at a scruffy lower
Greta is not at her best, the song is in bad shape, the crowd is indifferent, but one inebriated man,
Though he still drives a Jaguar that's a remnant of palmier days, Dan is a wreck. Once a gifted record producer, he hasn't signed anyone of value in years and has just been fired from the company he founded by Saul (Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def).
Once happily married, he lives apart from his wife, Miriam (
Yet Dan still has great ears, and one of "Begin Again's" better scenes allows us to hear the orchestrations he's imagining for Greta's tepid song while we see the other instruments in the bar playing themselves.
Because Dan has been a jerk up to this point in the film, it's not surprising that Greta, a purist who cares not a whit for commercial success, blows off his inebriated attempts to persuade her to work with him on a record.
But, as yet another extended flashback shows us, Greta is also nursing a broken heart. She came to
It's no surprise that Greta comes around and agrees to work with Dan, but the amount of unconvincing exposition we're expected to swallow is disheartening in a way it never was in "Once."
Yet, just when you are ready to completely write off "Begin Again," the music starts to play, the camera takes it all in and makes us a part of it, and the film's unpersuasive emotions don't seem to matter as much.
MPAA rating: R (for language)
Running time: 1:44.
"Begin Again" Movie Trailer
"Begin Again" is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta and her long-time boyfriend Dave are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan, a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
- 'Boyhood' Movie Review
- 'Sex Tape' Movie Review
- 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Movie Review
- 'Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago' Movie Review
- 'Tammy' Movie Review
- 'Deliver Us From Evil' Movie Review
- 'Earth to Echo' Movie Review
- 'Begin Again' Movie Review
- 'Life Itself' Movie Review
- 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' Movie Review
- 'They Came Together' Movie Review
- 'Third Person' Movie Review
- 'Ivory Tower' Movie Review
- 'Jersey Boys' Movie Review
- 'The Rover' Movie Review
- 'Think Like a Man Too' Movie Review
- 'A Coffee in Berlin' Movie Review
- 'Brave Miss World' Movie Review
- '22 Jump Street' Movie Review
- 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' Movie Review
- 'Edge of Tomorrow' Movie Review
- 'The Fault in Our Stars' Movie Review
- 'Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas' Movie Review
- 'Maleficent' Movie Review
- 'Cold in July' Movie Review
- 'A Million Ways To Die in The West' Movie Review
- 'Chinese Puzzle' Movie Review
- Jayson Blair and All The Lies Not Fit to Print
- 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Movie Review
- 'Blended' Movie Review
- 'The Immigrant' Movie Review
- 'Ida' Movie Review
- 'The Cold Lands' Movie Review
- 'Godzilla' Movie Review
- 'Palo Alto' Movie Review
- 'Million Dollar Arm' Movie Review
- 'Chef' Movie Review
- 'God's Pocket' Movie Review
- 'For No Good Reason' Movie Review
- 'Neighbors' Movie Review
- Top 10 Superhero Alter Egos
- Top 10 Kevin Bacon Performances
- Can You Believe These 10 Movies Turn 20 This Year?
- Richard Roeper Reviews 'Boyhood'
- Top 10 Years in Film History
- 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' First Look and Avengers Tower Details
- Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman in 'Lucy' Feature Clip
- Top 10 Harry Potter Characters
- Top 10 Greatest Female Movie Villains of All Time
- 12 Most Patriotic Movie Moments
- 7 Most Illogical Movie Endings
- Top 10 Fictional Movie Towns
- Top 10 Vietnam War Movies
- Remembering 'Forrest Gump' 20 Years Later
- Top 10 Movie Robots of All Time
- Top 10 Pixar Villains
- Top 10 Stan Lee Movie Cameos
- Top 10 Damsels in Distress in Movies
- Top 10 Cult Classics: Horror Movies
- Top 10 Alfred Hitchcock Movies
- Top 10 Major Plot Holes in Movies
- Top 10 Dramatic Movie Deaths
- Top 10 Movie Production Nightmares
- Top 10 Old Wise Men in Movies
- Top 10 School Dances in Movies
- Top 10 Movie Shower Scenes
- The Movies You'll Definitely Want To See This Summer
- Top 10 Memorable Movie Insults
- Top 10 Funniest Movie Insults
- Top 10 Obscene Movie Insults (Explicit)
- Top 10 Hated Movie Actors
Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
'Begin Again' Movie Review & Movie Trailer