AOCOpens July 11
Begin AgainCert 15A
It was in 2006 that John Carney's Once snuck out of small indie-film land into mainstream money-making Oscar-winning cinema land. The formula is one that Carney attempts to create with Begin Again in a bigger city with bigger stars.
Greta (Keira Knightley), above, a singer/songwriter, is dragged onstage to sing in a New York club by her friend (James Corden). Her plaintive song is unnoticed by virtually anyone except a wild-haired drunk man who tries to talk her into making a record with him. This is Dan (Mark Ruffalo) a once cool record producer whose life, on all levels, has crashed.
He's an alcoholic, he is an unreliable father to his daughter (Hailie Steinfeld), his marriage to Miriam (Catherine Keener) has crashed, and his business partner (Mos Def) has fired him. Greta is heartbroken, her fiance (Adam Levine) has got famous and idiotic; so together Greta and Dan contrive to rebuild their lives and careers via a live album recorded in the street.
The similarities to Once are enormous, although the back stories are more present here. All round, it is more contrived and self-aware in order to make certain redemptions seem richer, but there are some clever scenes, and it is a nice, uplifting, tuneful, often funny and enjoyable film. Knightley is less annoying than usual and she has a lovely voice. Ruffalo is as appealing as always.
Opens July 11