Begin Again

mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

In just two films, writer/director John Carney may very well have created a new genre: the neo-musical. First, there was 2006’s Once, a breakout indie film with an Oscar-winning song, “Falling Slowly.” Now he follows a similar plot trajectory with Begin Again (which was once wistfully titled Can a Song Save Your Life?). Two musicians – one male and one female – meet, collaborate on a project and flirt with impunity before ultimately deciding they would rather make music than love. Through his stories about musicians and collaboration, Carney has found a way to update the musical to our contemporary, authenticity-driven times. In his films, the characters frequently break into song, but they don’t break the fourth wall, and the stories never devolve into spectacle. However, Carney has more on his mind than genre-busting. Both of his neo-musicals contain a creeping criticism of a music industry that is depicted as overly-focused on image and provides little room for the true artist to find space to grow. In Once, the characters are working to create a demo so that they can get a record deal, but the implicit question asked by the film is why a singer as talented as Glen Hansard has to make ends meet by busking on the street in the first place (in real life Hansard fronts The Frames, a successful Irish rock band). If Once’s industry criticism is subtextual, Begin Again is more overt about its intentions. The film stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley as Dan and Greta, a music producer […]


mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

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).

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