Overview: A broken hearted songwriter and a failing record company executive come together to make music and repair their lives. Distributed by The Weinstein Company, rated R, 104 minutes.
You Mean That Adam Levine Movie?: Yes, 2013’s Sexiest Man Alive makes his acting debut in Begin Again. It turns out Adam Levine is actually comfortable on screen as a crooning, heartbreaking womanizer (are we sure he’s acting?), but he’s completely overshadowed by both the chemistry between Mark Ruffalo (Dan) and Keira Knightley (Gretta) and the charm of the token best friend, James Corden (Steve). Ruffalo’s at his best with characters like Dan, perfecting the fine line between angry and unhinged, and sympathetic and vulnerable, a self-destructive but functioning alcoholic. Balancing his turbulent behavior is Knightley with her breezy, soulful demeanor and surprisingly soothing voice. Her performance is genuine and flawless as she takes us from star struck New York City hopeful, to scorned woman, and finally to assured, independent musician. Their instantaneous friendship flourishes through the movie, creating constant “will they or won’t they” moments that build to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion that I won’t spoil for you.
A Different Kind Of Love Story: Fans of 2007’s Irish musical Once are sure to be pleased with Director John Carney’s consistency in again weaving music and film so seamlessly. Begin Again isn’t a story about two people falling in love with one another, it’s about two people sharing their love of music and using it to deal with the punches life throws. The most honest scenes revolve around the music, whether it’s Dan’s and Gretta’s traipse through New York City with their shared headphones, or the impromptu drunken song Gretta writes and leaves on her ex’s voicemail. If for some reason Keira Knightley has to abandon the world of acting, she can almost be guaranteed a music career now. She sings like a cross between Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles, and she’s even charming when she drops an F-bomb in the middle of the chorus. The original songs, penned by Gregg Alexander, tell the story all on their own, each one as endearing as the next.
Overall: If, in the midst of all the summer blockbuster action, you want to see a movie that will make your ears perk up and put a smile on your face, go see Begin Again.