Film review: Begin Again (8 out of 10)

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in Begin Again. Photo: Andrew Schwartz
Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in Begin Again. Photo: Andrew Schwartz

It’s been a good year so far - a few blockbusters that have been better than normal and a good smattering of smaller independent movies that defy being pigeon-holed.

Begin Again is definitely in the latter camp.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable film that makes some valid points about life and how we should pursue our dreams, doing so because it feels right, not because it’s what people expect.

Mark Ruffalo plays Dan, a record producer who is now living on past triumphs.

He’s separated from wife and daughter and searching for a new exciting sound, but mostly finding solace in drink.

In a moment of extreme desperation he stumbles across singer/song-writer Gretta, played by Keira Knightley, who has recently split from her long-term boyfriend and fellow singer Dave.

He sees great potential in her singing and songwriting ability.

The story is then Dan and Gretta’s attempt to create an album with minimal help but lots of hope and raw talent.

An added comic element is thrown in with James Corden as Gretta’s English friend, who is busking (badly) around New York.

Ruffalo is his normal excellent self and Knightley is someone who divides audiences - to be honest she’s a bit too posh for me. But this one of the best roles I’ve seen her in.

Hailee Steinfeld plays Dan’s estranged daughter - a role similar to the one she recently played in 3 Days to Kill.

Adam Levine is Dave and I have to confess that I sat there thinking this actor sounds remarkably like the lead singer of Maroon 5. It’s only afterwards I realised he is the man himself, singing superbly and not a bad actor to boot.

There’s a definite feel-good emotion at the end of the film which doesn’t follow too obvious a path.

Plus you get to see New York away from the beaten tourist track and there’s some excellent music.

And I applaud the novel way of running the credits at the end, forcing you to stay on.

Film details: Begin Again (15) 104mins

Director: John Carney

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley