John Carney’s follow-up to his debut movie, Once, is a pure cinematic gem you should not deprive yourself of. It is everything a movie should be – or at least should strive to be – humane, uplifting, inspiring and also yes, a little bit funny. The cast is also not so bad – which never hurts: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden and ‘that douchebag from Maroon 5′ aka Adam Levine.
1. It is authentic
At the beginning of the movie, Keira Knightley’s and Mark Ruffalo’s characters, Gretta and Dan Mulligan – an English songwriter who just left her recently famous boyfriend, Dave (played by Adam Levine) after he cheated on her with his new assistand, and a washed-up music producer who just got fired by his friend, from the label he helped create – talk about what makes a good artist and the word “authenticity” is thrown around. Well, Begin Again sure is authentic.
It’s not really often that you go to the movies and feel like the characters on screen are actual human beings and not just movie stars assuming a new disguise – albeit doing so very well. The characters do not wear fancy clothes, the girls are not hidden behind tons of make-up and the locations do not look like a million bucks. The story actually flows flawlessly and feels like, well, real life.
2. The music is great
The soundtrack is a mix between ballads and funny, joyful songs that are just really pleasant to the ear and might make you wanna dance a bit with your friends. (Try resisting this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyiQtznyCGU – I can’t). What is funny is that at the beginning of the movie, Dan Mulligan goes through a stack of CDs artists send him. He throws most of them away because they are -let’s be blunt- shit! Well it is exactly how many feel when turning their radio on, so it is really nice to see that the movie went out of this way to create something different. Dan’s faceoff with his friend and partner, played by Mos Def, is actually really interesting it shows how the industry is torn between choosing to create something that makes money (aka shit) and something a little bit different, daring and original.
3. It is not about success
The point of the movie is not to see Keira’s character outshine Adam’s one. Begin Again is all about doing something you love just because you feel like it. It’s about doing what you want and how you want it and affirming yourself in the process. It’s also about standing up for what you believe in and not backing down when everyne one else tells you to do it differently. That is the real success, not the millions made ouf of recording contracts or sold-out shows.
4. It is awfully optimistic
In you are an inveterate optimistic like me, this movie will warm your heart in all the right ways. It shows a group of unlikely musicians getting together to create something no one else believes in. It also shows two people overcoming their difficulties and finding solace in an unlikely way. It also proves that together we are always stronger, that tea works anytime you feel down and that music & laughter are the best medicine.
5. The ending deserves a high-five
I won’t go in too much details there but let’s just say the ending will surprise you. It’s not the typical ending of a romantic comedy and it is perfect, heartwarming and inspirational. Come back when you’ve seen it and we’ll talk about it.
Bonus points : While many may have forgotten it, and how could you blame them when it seems he tries his best to hide it, the movie is also a good reminder that Adam Levine does have a great voice and stir the strings of your soul when he sings. After two Maroon 5 albums who wandered a bit too far into the dark meanders of pop (a bit like Adam character does in the movie), it is refreshing to hear his beautiful voice on a non-overproduced ballad. (Let’s dig out Songs about Jane and remind ourselves of better times, shall we?)