News

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music | Run Time: 104 min | Rated: R
Director: John Carney | Starring: Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine

By: George Wolf

Okay, let’s talk about Begin Again without mentioning that other movie that it will really remind you of…

Nope, can’t do it.

You’d be tempted to call it “Once for the multi-plex” even if you didn’t know both films come from the same writer/director, John Carney.

In 2006, Carney’s tender, heartfelt treatment made Once a wonderful tale of two musicians in Ireland telling their love story through song. It became an indie hit that won an Oscar and spawned a popular stage musical, but now it seems Carney wants to trade nuance for bigger box office while his new characters disavow musicians who do just that.

He moves the musical setting from the streets of Dublin to the boardrooms of New York, with Mark Ruffalo starring as Dan, a well-known record executive whose career has seen better days. He stumbles into a bar just in time to hear Greta (Keira Knightley) being coaxed onstage to sing an original song,

Dan instantly hears a hit, and wants to record her, but Greta is gun shy. She’s still hurting from her breakup with Dave (Adam Levine), who has left her behind and become a superstar with soulless pop versions of her songs.

Greta agrees to a demo CD but there’s no budget to speak of, so they decide on a musical tour of the city, recording live with a full band at various locations around NYC.

Begin Again is aggressively likable. It’s all about winning you over you with popular actors, constant positivity and pleasant-yet-forgettable songs that are recorded in one take. Knightley even handles her own vocals, and she does just fine.

Of course she does! That’s how fairy tales work!

Look, as feel good movies of the year go, you could do much worse than Begin Again. It’s often charming. But there’s no escaping the irony in the “homemade” nature of Greta’s demo. Carney used similar tactics for Once, and came out a big winner.

Now, like Greta’s ex, Carney has big money behind him, but too little soul in the finished product.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Recent Headlines

in Local

Springfield Fire Dept. Investigates Potential Arson

Fresh
fire

Springfield fire investigators are trying to figure out what, or who, started multiple fires on West Governor St.

in Local

U.S. Sen. Kirk’s Plane Evacuated in Washington

Fresh
mark_kirk

Kirk's office says someone on the no fly list was on board.

in Local

Legislative Gridlock Likely in Session’s Last Week

Fresh
state_capitol_1

Legislators returned to the Capitol Monday to finish the session that ends Sunday.

in Local

Illinois Licensing Pools, Beaches as Swimming Season Begins

Fresh
pool

The Illinois Department of Public Health is in charge of the regulations under the Illinois Swimming Facility Act.

in Local

Murphysboro City Council Allocates $6,000 for Civil War Grave Restoration

Fresh
arlington

Civil War grave markers will be refurbished thanks to $6,000 from the Murphysboro City Council.