Before you decide that TFiOS is the best movie of the summer, watch this heartfelt story about chasing your dreams and making something special happen.
I recently saw a movie that is going to become one of my favorites, and one that I fully intend to buy the second it comes out on DVD. Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Hailee Steinfeld, is a wonderful film about love, music, and starting over.
The movie is raw, honest, and genuine – much like the music of Keira Knightley’s character, Greta. It’s rated R, mostly because they swear quite a bit. But in the real world, who doesn’t? The characters – even the broken ones, like Mark Ruffalo’s Dan – are people I would want to be friends with. It is set in New York City, with incredible scenery and a low-key vibe. There is no trace of the distracting glitz that could have ruined the movie if it was set somewhere predictable like LA. Through the dialogue and production, the viewer can see how everyone involved with making the film is dedicated to their craft. The movie’s title aptly states its main message: there is so much beauty in second chances.
The story is simple: Dan, a once brilliant record executive, is now a faded image of his former self, spending more time getting drunk than he does signing promising new musical acts. His business partner, finally fed up with him, fires him. In a stereotypical fashion, he goes out and drowns his sorrows at a dive bar, where he hears Greta quietly strumming a ballad on stage. In what could be seen as the creative imagination of a drunk man running wild, instruments come to life on stage and Dan hears Greta’s rough song as a full-realized production. He also sees a second chance for himself, a way to get back to the life he once knew. Of course, it’s not that easy. Dan begs Greta to sign with him, but she refuses, saying that she is headed back to England to nurse her broken heart. Slowly but surely, he convinces her, and they set out to make her first album. Since Dan isn’t actually a record exec anymore, he makes a deal with his former partner: they will make a demo album, and from there, the record label will decide whether or not to sign Greta. They enlist Greta’s musical friends to assemble a band, and they make their album on the streets of New York City. The movie itself is a love story to New York and starving artists, and it is an incredible thing to experience as a viewer. The story strips away the crazy showmanship and faux-reality of Hollywood, and the spotlight is able to truly shine on the music, which is what’s important. It’s impossible to not be inspired to chase your dreams when watching this movie.
The music is all extremely well done, unlike the over-produced pop that dominates the radio these days. The words spill off of Knightley’s tongue so delicately that you really do believe she wrote them. She makes a convincing young musician, and is a beautiful breath of fresh air. Mark Ruffalo does a great job portraying a record label exec who has lost his way, and manages to come off endearing when he should seem like a tool, something Ruffalo has done well before (think The Kids are Alright, except he doesn’t end up being a huge jerk by the end this time around). I also love how Hailee Steinfeld’s character Violet was written – she is witty, sharp, and mature, but you can still see that she is just a lost young girl trying to find her way and impress her erratic father. Adam Levine was even pretty good in his role, and I’m not even a huge fan of his. Months ago, when I first heard he was going to be in this movie, I laughed, remembering his fairly pathetic role on American Horror Story – but I thought his acting actually wasn’t too bad!
There’s not much more I can say – After all, I’m not a professional movie critic – except, go see this movie!!!