Which isn’t to say that it’s perfect, nor is it as strong a film as Carney’s previous hit Once, but with Begin Again you’ll find yourself often grinning at the unashamedly upbeat vibe and joyful celebration of music.
The story of two downtrodden members of the music industry meeting and deciding to record an album together is the perfect vehicle to honour music and the effect it can have on one’s life. Begin Again does this well in almost every respect and you’ll leave the theatre feeling warm and will recall the conversations they have about music and its transcending qualities. Come the next day though and you’ll have most likely forgotten every song in the film… which is a problem. A film about the power of music needs to have much more memorable and impactful songs. Don’t get me wrong, many of the scenes with music set to them are lovely, but it’s the action taking place on screens which sticks and not whatever it is they are strumming on a guitar. Still the movie does hold up for movie lovers as the music is pleasant to listen to, and the film’s premise that music can save lives is very easy to get on board with.
Something that I have to congratulate Carney on is his handling of clichés here. Numerous, what would have been disastrous, pitfalls are avoided, some cleanly, but with some others he teases us with the possibility of heading into cringe worthy territory and then swaps into a more intelligent, and true to the characters moment instead. Also, the clichés that the film does embrace are presented in such a warm way that you can let them slide. Begin Again really owes a lot to it’s cast as without their hard work this could have felt cheesy at times. Take Mark Ruffalo’s character for example; we have seen the broadly painted struggling father figure a million times before but Ruffalo here gives him enough likeability and depth so that we really don’t mind the character’s familiarity.
The bottom line is that I had a really good time with Begin Again. It has some flaws to be sure, but it’s the kind of movie where I wasn’t really aware of them during it as I was just having a really nice time. In trying to think of how to describe this movie I toyed with the words perfect summer movie, but that’s a little demeaning. It’s uplifiting, full of strong and enjoyable performance and is ideal for music lovers. Just don’t go in expecting a second Once, this one’s strength lies not in its music but its actors.
What is the film’s greatest strength? The work done by its cast, Ruffalo in particular.
Its greatest weakness? As nice as the songs were, I wish that I could remember a single one of them now.
Would I see it again? Yeah it’s an excellent feelgood summer movie.
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