Monday, September 15, 2014
BEGIN AGAIN (2014)
Written & Directed By: John Carney
Cinematography By: Yaron Orbach
Editor: Andrew Marcus
Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam LeVine, Catherine Keener, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, Yasiin Bay (Mos Def), Rob Morrow, Cee lo Green, Maddie Corman, Aya Cash
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.
Let me say first of all I am shocked at how much i enjoyed this film. It truly caught me off guard.
Director John Carney brings a D.I.Y. Spirit and charm to the film as much as he did with his debut film ONCE. Though this film seems more manufactured it still has that independent spirit to a degree.
I like that the beginning of the film is a bit non-linear as it plays then fills us in on each of the main characters stories that bring is to their introduction to each other and us in the audience.
John Carney has an original voice even if he at times relays on the same elements to come up with a new formula. Though you can see his talent and is successful at creating a tone, mood and cinematic world. That takes a reality we all know and shines on the better aspects to make it feel more precious. Though here working with two leads who aren't musicians, yet surrounding them with musicians who seem to be more cast in acting roles rather then playing musicians.
The film is scrappy and it shows New York in it's natural state. It shows the dirty and gritty side, but still manages to make it seem like a wonderland also. Not a fantasy one, but one you wouldn't mind getting lost in and that is accessible if you open yourself up and let it be.
The film is romantic, yes in a love story kind of way and just in general. It makes you fall in love with the City, the music the characters. It gives you a warm feeling, but not overly sweet. Again we think we know where it is going so it's the journey and the journey is pretty original and once we think we have things figured out it changes. Especially on one scene that is the most romantic that I have seen In years where the two main characters reveal their playlists which can be a personal thing and proceed to listen to different songs from the list and in a way they speak for the characters, things in their heart and minds. That they can't say to one another. Afraid to reveal too much. Sort of the same affect a mix-tape used
The main character played by Mark Ruffalo his drama and problems are real though the center of it plays more novelistic then necessarily reality based. Though Ruffalo gives it his all and delivers a lived in performance.
At first I felt Keira Knightley was miscast and even though her character feels more like a Manic pixie dream girl with more emotions. Scarlett Johansson was actually cast in the lead role but dropped out. She also grounds her character to have a certain sweetness yet wise sensibility that supposedly comes from being depressed, but her character always seems to be quite even and level. Keira Knightley had to learn play the guitar for the role and her husband, musician James Righton, offered his help. However, according to Knightley herself, his lessons were atrocious for their relationship, and almost led to a "divorce and murder".
What makes this film feel different from other so called Romantic comedies is that it is filled not only with ideas, but inventiveness. Sure it all feels a bit twee and some could accuse it of being too precious for it's own good. Though it is rare at times to see a film that has those qualities and works.
The film also seems to have an opinion on modern music that isn't harsh nor is it original in it's opinions on it. This is a film that doesn't have a mean bone in it's body and has two well known musicians playing strictly actor parts. Other then one in particular. Rather than contribute to the songs and Music. Which works as the film is filled with music yet never seems to sell out. As it has a independent never defeated New York spirit. And always has a whimsical song In it's heart. It is all homegrown.
The ending confused me a bit as it seems set-up for Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly to get together and fall in love. With him going back to his wife who he still loves even though she was the one who wronged him. Again brings is back to the unrequited feelings and love of ONCE. Though here we see them again an now have formed more of a strong friendship.
The movie manages to say so much while speaking so little. In it's glances and actions. It feels like fluff but manages to reveal a certain deepness u never would have guessed it had.
The film seems to settle on a film ending, but instead of leaving us to wonder what will happen with the album or some Rinky-dink typed out update that would feel impersonal. While the credits roll. We get scenes where we see get the fate of the album is. It's a movie of fresh starts, beginning anew a film that a more streetwise and street vocabulary person would describe as twee as hell. Strangely enough for me, this movie which revolves so much around music and it’s meaning. The actual music was the least memorable part of the film.
It's a rare film that Is this sweet and isn't irritating
Maybe I feel for it as it seems to be a romantic film of unrequited love that usually affect me more the. Romantic films outright.