Adam Reynoso ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With an enjoyable soundtrack filled with tunes sung by the movie’s stars, Begin Again is a heartwarming, music-filled comedy that’s worth checking out while it’s in theaters.
Set in New York City, the film follows a woman named Gretta (Keira Knightley) as she’s reeling from a break up with her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine), and preparing to move back to England. On the night before she’s supposed to leave, she’s discovered performing by Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a former record label executive who’s recently been fired and spends most of his time in bars. Together, the two set out to create a record set to the sounds of New York.
One of the highlights of this film is Knightley’s performance; she makes it easy to sympathize with Gretta and experience the heartbreak she goes through. She has a warmness about her that really comes off the screen, and exudes a glowing chemistry with Ruffalo. Knightley brings enough heart to the role that makes it enjoyable to follow her on her journey.
Gretta’s relationships enrich the story as well. She’s able to infuse her heartbreak following the end of her relationship with Dave into her music. It’s also interesting to compare Gretta and Dave’s respective outlooks on music and evaluate how these outlooks shape their character. Dave represents what happens when someone gets caught up in the limelight and loses sight of who they once were, whereas Gretta is a prime example of someone who stays true to who they are and shares that through their music.
It was surprising to see Knightley’s name in the credits for the soundtrack. It required a second viewing in order to appreciate the music again and understand that these actors all performed it themselves . With any movie that focuses heavily on music, the soundtrack has a lot of weight in determining the quality of the film- and for Begin Again, it really works. The soundtrack flows with each mood and act and moves the film along smoothly. Adam Levine’s own songs bring a special depth to his character as well.
In addition to the soundtrack, the setting also really adds to the film. With the premise to record an album with the city as the background, the film takes full advantage of New York City as its dynamic setting. The city plays an important role and aids in shaping the mood and the romance. New York is a character in itself and it’s an important one. The idea to film the record with the natural sound of the city in the background was a great idea and sent the characters to interesting places.
Begin Again is a light, feel-good comedy that offers some excellent music. With solid performances and a lively setting, the film is a refreshing break from summer’s big blockbusters.
Overall Grade: B+