Can a Song Save Your Life?

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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Enemy

Yes, film festivals are wonderful to attend (and this month’s just-concluded Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most wonderful I’ve ever personally covered), but for those cinephiles who can’t get to Toronto or Park City or Cannes or Venice, it’s the ultimate question – which of these films will I actually get to see? TIFF is, of course a bit different than the vast majority of other festivals out there, simply because its biggest titles arrive with not only a large studio or production company footing the bill, but with set release dates we’ve known about months in advance. For a lot of the largest films at TIFF, the festival is simply a good place to have a premiere, get some buzz, and prep for the upcoming awards season – getting bought and distributed has already been taken care of. It’s no surprise that we’ll get to see films like Rush, August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, Prisoners, and many more sooner rather than later (seriously, Rush comes out this week), but what about all those films that screened at TIFF with the intent to get bought? Plenty of them did get snapped up, and hopefully that means they’ll be hitting a theater near you soon enough. Take a look:

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Despite a dud for a title, John Carney‘s Can A Song Save Your Life? sounds intriguing, particularly when you consider that Carney is the man who brought us the incredibly charming Once and that he had lined up a somewhat unexpected pair to top-line his production. Back in February, the project was announced with Scarlett Johansson on board to play a young singer looking to break into the music biz after a bad break-up, alongside Mark Ruffalo as a record producer who turns her life around (professionally and personally) . It was set to be a fun little reunion for the Avengers pair, something more romantic and pleasing to the ears. But now Johansson is out and Ruffalo’s name is nowhere to be seen in the latest dispatch regarding the film. ScreenDaily reports (via Cinema Blend), that Johansson has stepped away from the project for “personal reasons,” and that her role will now be played by Keira Knightley (not an entirely bad swap, really). The news reports that Exclusive Media will financing and producing the film, in addition to selling it at Cannes, and as far as other stars, it only mentions Hailee Steinfeld (who is set to play the producer’s daughter), there’s nothing about Ruffalo. With the ‘Ruff (go with it) making such a big splash in The Avengers, it seems unlikely that an upcoming production wouldn’t be trading on his name any way they can. Is he out, too?

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Actors Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo are already set to tear apart city blocks together as members of The Avengers this summer, so why shouldn’t they be in a love story together as well? Sounds like the logical next step. To that end they’ve both joined Once writer/director John Carney’s next film, Can a Song Save Your Life? Why the ridiculous title? Well, because, like Once, this movie is also about musicians falling in love. This time the story is set in New York City, where Johansson will be playing a plucky young singer trying to start a career in the music business after getting dumped by her stupid boyfriend. While there she meets a charming though mumble-mouthed record producer (Ruffalo) who’s been down on his lucky lately (you know, because he’s a record producer), and the two start up a fling that manages to turn both of their lives around.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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