From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
Film: Begin Again Director: John Carney Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine Rating: 2.5
His personal life is going to hell, he has just been fired from the record company he helped create and he is drowning his sorrows in liquor.
She is the recent ex-girlfriend of a narcissistic rocker who just wants to go back home to England and heal.
What do the two have in common – their love for music and the belief that it can change lives.
Make no mistake, writer-director John Carney's Begin Again is no epic, it is a likeable romance between two people and music. It is no Once either, the brilliant film by Carney which won an Oscar for its title track and was on a similar lines.
But it is a sweet, little film which will carry you with its languid pace, love for music and enchanting performances.
Down-and-out Dan (Mark Ruffalo) listens to Gretta (Keira Knightley) singing in a pub and spots a star. All he needs is backing of a label (co-founded by him) to promote her, which is not forthcoming.
So, he comes up with an ingenious idea – they will record the album all around New York including in back alleys, subway stations and building terraces. We see the process of creation as Dan and Gretta go about making music with help of a motley band of musicians.
The process not only brings the two together, it also breaches the distance between Dan and his estranged wife (Catherine Keener) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld).
To the audience used to lovers walking in the sunset holding hands, this film offers an unlikely – but deeper – climax. Where they expect kisses, Carney makes them do with meaningful looks. But then, there is so much emotion in those glances that you come back satisfied.
The credit for that goes to the two brilliant performers, Knightley and Ruffalo. Both are perfect for the role and bring their A-game. The film also reveals a hitherto unknown fact about Knightley – she can really sing! Also watch out for singer Adam Levine as Gretta's ex-boyfriend who is on the brink of superstardom.
In fact, the film's best moments come when music and New York are fused together. Whether the lead pair is making music on the streets or dancing in the night to the strains of Stevie Wonder's For Once In My Life.
More than the music featured in the film, it is the process of its creation that captures you and Carney's insistence on authenticity and doing what you believe in.
This one is for lovers of music and slow, languid romances.