mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

The Weinstein Company

When Inside Llewyn Davis hit theaters late last year, it showed audiences that being a solo acoustic artist on a small record label was anything but ideal, and the farthest thing from glamorous. But apparently the industry has changed quite a bit since the ’60s, because all it really takes nowadays to beat the competition in those dreary streets of New York City is for Mark Ruffalo to hear your song in a smokey bar and declare you a sensation. That’s it!

Well, okay, there’s a little more to it than just Ruffalo’s undivided attention. There are Central Park boats involved and Cee Lo Green‘s wisdom to understand. The trailer for Begin Again, which is the new title for Toronto Film Festival favorite Can a Song Save Your Life? (and a blissful rename at that — what a terrible first try that had been) sets off to show all this and more when Ruffalo’s Dan, a recently fired record label executive, crosses paths with Keira Knightley‘s Gretta. She’s a girl just kicking it around NYC with an acoustic guitar in hand after being dumped by her rock star boyfriend (played by Adam Levine, the second host of The Voice we see featured in this movie).

The comparisons to a more upbeat Once would already be there if the words “from the director of Once” — that would be John Carney — hadn’t popped up on screen about halfway through the trailer. A guy and a gal with nothing more than their hopes and their dreams and their incredible songs to keep them warm? Carney didn’t stray too far from the gold with this one, but the true comparison will be seeing how the music measures up to the beauty of that earlier sad and quiet film, or even to the misery of Llewyn Davis.

Begin Again follows the couple’s partnership as Dan discovers Gretta (that snippet in the trailer of him seeing the instruments playing themselves on stage around her is actually pretty great) and then promises to make her a star. But without the resources to do so, they still prove themselves resourceful. Hence the aforementioned Central Park boats — the twosome and their musically inclined friends are going to get famous the old fashioned way, by recording an album outdoors, each track in a different crowded NYC location, and presumably uploading it to YouTube for the internet glory.

Check out the trailer below:

Our own Kate Erbland reviewed the film at TIFF and said that “it’s highly unlikely that Can a Song Save Your Life? will actually save anyone from anything, but it’s perfectly orchestrated to charm plenty of people, thanks to infectiously good tunes and a pair of consistently good stars. While it may not be worth singing about, you’ll still walk out humming.”

Begin Again will close the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival and then hit theaters July 4th.


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