Music is a powerful thing, especially in movies. And as the main character says about halfway through the film, "That’s what I love about music. All these banalities suddenly turn into beautiful pearls." But he isn't quite doing the movie, it characters, or its setting justice. Begin Again is by far the best-written film of the summer, if not entire year so far. Writer-director John (Once, Bachelors Walk) Carney has struck gold with some stellar casting, some excellent original (and not-so-original) music, and a cast of actors and actresses so perfectly suited for their roles, its as if they were written directly for them.
Mark (The Avengers, The Kids Are All Right) Ruffalo and Keira (the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Atonement) Knightley shine as a down-on-his-luck former big shot music business executive and a heartbroken would-be singer/songwriter extraordinaire respectively, who drunkenly meet one night in an overcrowded hole-in-the-wall dive bar in New York City. The varied stories of the people who have touched and continue to intersect in their daily lives add some realistic yet interesting spice to the already complicated situation they find themselves not only living in, but embracing fully and wholeheartedly. What ensues is one of the most unique stories of friendship, trust, teamwork, and love... lost, found, and rekindled.
Stars James (Gulliver's Travels, One Chance) Corden, Hailee (True Grit, Romeo and Juliet) Steinfeld, Mos (16 Blocks, The Italian Job) Def, Catherine (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Captain Phillips) Keener, and an surprisingly effective performance by Adam (American Horror Story, The Voice) Levine strengthen an already great movie. The only thing that might turn viewers off from the film is the believable and somewhat unpredictable ending. To keep this spoiler-free, it is easiest to simply admit that the ending might not be the ultimate feel-good warm and fuzzy feeling kind of wrap-up, but it, like the rest of the story, is an honest and true-to-life (and more importantly, true to the characters) closing sequence. It would be a shame to ignore the acting, but it would be an absolute crime to not acknowledge (and possibly even award) the work of John Carney in this amazing film.