News

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

This image released by The Weinstein Company shows Keira Knightley, left, and Adam Levine in a scene from "Begin Again." Photo: Associated Press/The Weinstein Company, Andrew Schwartz

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music | Run Time: 104 min | Rated: R
Director: John Carney | Starring: Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine

By: George Wolf

Okay, let’s talk about Begin Again without mentioning that other movie that it will really remind you of…

Nope, can’t do it.

You’d be tempted to call it “Once for the multi-plex” even if you didn’t know both films come from the same writer/director, John Carney.

In 2006, Carney’s tender, heartfelt treatment made Once a wonderful tale of two musicians in Ireland telling their love story through song. It became an indie hit that won an Oscar and spawned a popular stage musical, but now it seems Carney wants to trade nuance for bigger box office while his new characters disavow musicians who do just that.

He moves the musical setting from the streets of Dublin to the boardrooms of New York, with Mark Ruffalo starring as Dan, a well-known record executive whose career has seen better days. He stumbles into a bar just in time to hear Greta (Keira Knightley) being coaxed onstage to sing an original song,

Dan instantly hears a hit, and wants to record her, but Greta is gun shy. She’s still hurting from her breakup with Dave (Adam Levine), who has left her behind and become a superstar with soulless pop versions of her songs.

Greta agrees to a demo CD but there’s no budget to speak of, so they decide on a musical tour of the city, recording live with a full band at various locations around NYC.

Begin Again is aggressively likable. It’s all about winning you over you with popular actors, constant positivity and pleasant-yet-forgettable songs that are recorded in one take. Knightley even handles her own vocals, and she does just fine.

Of course she does! That’s how fairy tales work!

Look, as feel good movies of the year go, you could do much worse than Begin Again. It’s often charming. But there’s no escaping the irony in the “homemade” nature of Greta’s demo. Carney used similar tactics for Once, and came out a big winner.

Now, like Greta’s ex, Carney has big money behind him, but too little soul in the finished product.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

‘Downton Abbey’ to end after season six

This photo released by PBS and Carnival Film and Television Limited shows, from left, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore, and Sophie McShera as Daisy, in a scene from season four of the Masterpiece TV series, "Downton Abbey." As it returns for its much-awaited fourth season, it remains a series about elegance, tradition and gentility, and the pressures of preserving them. The show premieres Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9 pm ET on PBS.

Producers confirm that the next season of "Downton Abbey" will be the last.

in Music

Iron Maiden frontman returns to public eye

In this photo made available on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010, singer Bruce Dickinson performs during the concert of the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden at the Sziget (Island) Festival on the Shipyard Island in northern Budapest, Hungary, late Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. The Island Festival is one of the biggest cultural events of Europe with an emphasis on music.

Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson makes his first public appearance since undergoing treatment for cancer.

in Entertainment

‘Empire’ co-stars spark romance rumors

gracegealey

Are Trai Byers and Grace Gealey more than just coworkers?

in Entertainment

Idris Elba could be the next ‘Star Trek’ villain

idriselba

The in-demand actor is in talks to join the star-studded cast of the sci-fi franchise.

in Entertainment, Weird

Balki’s bills: ‘Perfect Strangers’ star owes $280K in taxes, mortgage payments

pinchot

Bank officials say actor Bronson Pinchot hasn't been heard from in over a year.