Irish writer and director John Carney brings to life his tale of music, loss, resurgence and redemption with his latest film – BEGIN AGAIN

With the 80’s and 90’s nothing but a faint memory, along with his career of being one of the top executives in the music business,  Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is trying to find some foothold with his career, and his marriage, which too has apparently hit hard times.

Fighting the new wave of music downloading as a way to make money, Dan finds himself in turmoil with his business associate Bey (Mos Def), who thinks the companies only way to survive is to move into this new area of music distribution.

Hell bent on not giving in to the craziness that has gripped the music business, Dan finds himself in search of the “next big thing in music”, or at least a new muse to occupy his time.

While out one evening on his nightly binge of drinking his woes away, Dan happens upon a folk singer named Greta (Keira Knightley).  Greta just happens to be a song writer and some-time performer, who is also trying to escape her life, since her boyfriend and fellow songwriter Dave (Adam Levine), has had a taste of fame, which has apparently clouded his judgment, as he has stepped out on Greta with one of his new music associates – JERK!

Dan loves Greta’s music so much, that he comes up with a new way to produce her music, as he envisions many other instruments besides her acoustic guitar to enhance her sound – and better yet – he wants to use the sounds of New York City as the background in each of her recordings.

As Dan finds new passion in his work with Greta, and Greta finds new meaning in her work as well, they both struggle with finding a balance with their past relationships, which keep rearing their ugly heads.

Will Dan be able to embark upon a new music career, creating a one of kind sound that no one can match?  Will Greta be able to distance herself from Dave so that she can focus on finding her own fame and fortune?  Or will Dan and Greta’s working relationship become more than either of them are ready to handle?

I give BEGIN AGAIN a B- :  I totally enjoyed the concept of this film – older struggling producer finding a new way to make music and become relevant again combined with the perfect muse to make his music come to life – but Keira Knightley was the wrong choice for her role – she is not a strong enough singer to pull off this part AT ALL.  I think this film needed a “singing professional” to really set things afire, since her singing was an integral part of the plot.  Even grabbing a past female contestant from the VOICE could have added some singing credibility and dimension to this film. I enjoyed Ruffalo in his role, and Levine in his too, but their roles would have been better if they had a stronger women, than Knightley’s portrayal of her character, to play off of too.  Begin Again wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t what it could have become in my estimation, with a few tweaks to the casting of the film.

Kathy Kaiser  

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