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Review of ‘Begin Again’

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo make their own playlist in John Carney’s romantic musical drama.

    “I’m not Judy Garland,” snaps Keira Knightley’s character to Mark Ruffalo’s when the latter, tipsy and excited (musically), proposes to produce an album for him in the corner of a pub. At that moment, John Carney (director and screenwriter of ‘Begin again’) dismantles us at first, and with a touch of cinephile irony, the idea that we were about to witness a new variation of A Star Is Born.

    The clues were obvious: artist turned into a “have been” with multiple problems and in low alcoholic hours (and with the addition of a splendid Mark Ruffalo who is very reminiscent of James Mason from George Cukor’s version with Garland, especially in how well he plays a drunk) who seeks to redeem himself by supporting a new singer But we are not facing a tragedy, or a tragedy in Hollywood serial and canonical use, but rather an optimistic, kind, luminous and magically touched by the sense of wonder sentimental humanist fable about second chances.

    If in his previous film, the no less feelgood ‘Once’, Carney managed to form a duet between the cinema of John Cassavetes and that of Richard Curtis, in this his new work aims to continue exploiting that universe ‘Love actually’ but from a point of very apatowian view. Not coincidentally, Judd Apatow is one of the executive producers of ‘Begin again’, and ‘Begin again’ looks remarkably like (in structure, in its multiple portraits…in the rapper’s mansion and pool scene) like a ‘ Make me laugh’ from the world of music and music as the instrument that defines and configures relationships (at all levels) between human beings.

    Sensitive, funny, sometimes on the edge of that naivety that we accept in the pop ditties that we have as guilty pleasures… John Carney’s film is one of those that make you leave the cinema with a rush of good vibes. One appreciates the proximity, dedication and heart that he shows in his best scenes: the recording of the songs outdoors, especially in the alley with the children or on that rooftop that describes a father-son reconciliation with a sensitivity and simplicity that one cannot except clap. And another detail that made this critic dance and shed a little tear of emotion at the cinema: that the catchy and richardcurtisian original songs composed by Simon Carmody (of the New Radicals, and they are very New Radicals) refer in their lyrics and in their music to those of Burt Bacharach for the stage musical ‘Promises, promises’, the sung version of ‘The Apartment’ by Billy Wilder, another story, like this one, of victims of love who meet, need and help each other… Like Well, a good friend told me when leaving the cinema: wonderful, period.

    For those who live life like a playlist

    Best: Ruffalo horn mentally arranging Knightley’s song.

    Worst: Adam Levine’s hipster fake beard.

    DATA SHEET

    Address: John Carney Distribution: Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine Country: USA Year: 2013 Release date: 01-08-2014 Gender: Comedy Screenplay: John Carney Duration: 104 minutes

    Synopsis: Gretta (Keira Knightley) and Dave (Adam Levine), a lovesick couple and fellow songwriters, arrive in New York when he signs a deal with a major record label. But his newfound fame soon tempts Dave into neglecting Gretta, whose world falls apart. When Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a down-on-his-luck record executive, discovers Gretta during a performance onstage in the East Village, he is instantly captivated by her talent and offers to start working together. A collaboration that will transform them both, while composing the soundtrack of a wonderful New York summer.

    Source: Fotogramas

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