Direction: John Carney
Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley
Week after week, major studio behemoths clog up the multiplexes. For a change, here’s an independently produced musical- romance which has a lot going for it — charismatic leads, a couple of catchy tunes and evocative New York locations.
Unfortunately, Begin Again also strikes so many false notes — painfully obvious clichés, clunky dialogue — that we cannot recommend it wholeheartedly. Irish writer-director John Carney’s follow-up to his similarly music-driven Once (2006) revolves around a couple of struggling musicians. He (Ruffalo) is an alcohol-addled producer who has just been fired from the record company which he had started.
And she (Knightley) is a British composer-chanteuse who has recently split from her rock star boyfriend (Adam Levine). The heartbroken duo meets at a Brooklyn bar where the expat is cajoled into performing one of her bittersweet songs.
Recognizing a budding musical talent when he hears one, the former hot shot executive is determined to record an album with his new discovery. Since he can’t afford to cut a demo, he devises an ingenious scheme.
Accompanied by his musically-inclined family and friends, the ragtag band takes to the crowded streets of New York to record her debut album live. In the part which was originally slated for Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, who also does her own singing, is irrepressible. Mark Ruffalo shines in a relatively un-showy role.
Catherine Kenner as his estranged wife and Hailee Steinfeld as their teenage daughter lend stellar support.
Begin Again makes for a comme ci, comme ca matinee.