Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Begin Again

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82% (Critics) / 85% (Audience)
Directed By: John Carney
Written By: John Carney
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld and Catherine Keener
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Synopsis:The latest film from writer-director John Carney (ONCE), BEGIN AGAIN is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) 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 (Mark Ruffalo), 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. – (Source)

The Good:
The soundtrack for this movie is just delightful. Yep…delightful. It is not a word I use a lot but it perfectly sums up the music that permeates the soul of this film. Just a bunch of delightful, catchy pop music that is delicately produced so that the music stands out more than the studio tricks.
Also delightful is Kiera Knightley who lights up the screen even in scenes where her heart is broken and she is being sullen and melancholy. The chemistry she and Mark Ruffalo develops is very nice too. It borders on the romantic while maintaining a total “best friends” vibe that is even stronger. It is that deep connection that Knightley and Ruffalo’s characters make over their shared passion for music that really works and is something not usually seen on film.
And who knew Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine was a decent actor? I sure didn’t.

The Bad:
There were a couple of moments where the film seemed to be on the verge of traveling down well worn romantic comedy territory with the relationship between the two make leads and that would have been disastrous. Luckily the movie pulled back from that.
The movie also suffers from one too many saccharine moments when a little bit of an edge would have probably been far more rewarding.

The Ugly:
Adam Levine’s bushy hipster beard may be the scariest thing ever put on film.

Final Verdict: A sweetly charming musical drama that features strong chemistry from its leads and a very fine supporting cast. The star of the film is the music though which helps to supersede some of the movies triteness.

Grade: B

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