He Said, She Said at the Movies: Begin Again Review - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

He Said, She Said at the Movies: Begin Again Review

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HE SAID:

“Begin Again” is the perfect cure for a bad day. That’s what I was experiencing before I stepped inside the movie theater. The last thing I wanted to do was see a movie, especially one with a “feel-good” label attached to it, something I gathered from watching the trailer. However, I’m really glad I did. Keira Knightley is an old-fashioned movie star. She’s beautiful yes, but she possesses a magnetic quality, something just out of our reach that we can’t explain with basic adjectives. Combining that with Mark Ruffalo’s performance, an actor who has become the go-to everyman, an incredibly moving and inspired soundtrack, and you have something truly magical. It’s not only one of the best movies of the year. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and a real surprise.

It tells two stories: Gretta (Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (played by Adam Levine) and Dan, a disgraced record label executive who is struggling to connect with his daughter, Violet. The two come together after Dan is fired and Gretta is dumped by Dave at a bar in New York City. She reluctantly sings a song she wrote and Dan, in a drunken state of mind, hears the beauty of her voice and lyrics and starts to reignite his passion for producing music. The movie appears predictable on the surface, but there are plenty of surprises and some refreshingly real performances. These characters are relatable in their struggles and there’s not a Hollywood gloss painted over their lives.

The supporting cast is outstanding. Adam Levine continues to prove he can do anything, and I appreciate that John Carney, the writer-director (he also helmed “Once”) resisted the urge to make his character a complete jerk. Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Ruffalo’s daughter is understated and actually looks like she could be the kid of Ruffalo and Catherine Keener, who plays her mom. James Corden, who plays Gretta’s best friend, has some really funny and tender moments. I really bought their friendship without needing much back story. Cee Lo Green is hilarious in a small part and Mos Def does fine work as Ruffalo’s record exec partner. It’s funny that Catherine Keener seems to show up in every movie these days, handing the director a few incredible scenes and making everyone around her better on screen. She’s one of the most underrated actresses of our time. “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Captain Phillips,” “A Late Quartet,” “Please Give” and “Hamlet 2” are just a few examples of movies she made infinitely better, whether her performances lasted 20 minutes or 2 hours. The music, the writing, the direction and the acting are all Grade A. That usually bodes well for the movie as a whole, and “Begin Again” doesn’t disappoint. It’s pure soul food. FULL PRICE.

SHE SAID:

I want to first start, actually, by mentioning the end of this film, which is kind of unconventional for a typical romantic comedy, but that's part of the reason I liked it so much. "Begin Again" is unique from the very beginning, and let me tell you why. It does not start out in a linear fashion. You get to know, really know, the main characters, and how they came to be in the same room on one particular night, that changes the course of their lives, their "little history."

Gretta is a singer-songwriter, played by Keira Knightley, and Dan is a record label executive, played by Mark Ruffalo. Gretta has just found out her long-time boyfriend has cheated on her, and Dan has just been fired. They meet by fate. Down-and-out Dan hears Gretta singing at an open mic night, and knows she's got something. Side note, that's actually Keira singing in the movie. She's pretty good. All Dan needs is the backing of a label for them to make a record. But when that doesn't happen, the pair decide to not let that determine their fate, and record the album all around New York, on their own.

Their journey is beautiful, like the music they're playing. I found myself tapping along to the tunes. Like I said, this isn't your typical romantic comedy. You don't even really know which characters are supposed to get together, or if any of them will at all.

The performances are spectacular. All the actors I think did a great job. Even Adam Levine; and we got to hear him sing. As a true testament to Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo's great acting, the looks they give each other say so much. You feel as though you're interrupting very intimate moments between the two. As the saying goes, "life is all about the journey, not the destination." This movie takes you on a ride, with a look at two lives that change each other, and those around them, for the better.

As with many romantic comedies, it leaves you with a smile on your face. The story is unforgettable, and not predictable. I definitely will be watching this movie again. FULL PRICE.

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