Begin Again is brought to us by writer/director John Carney whose film Once (2006) received Oscar recognition. Music is once again at the centre of his latest project. In this story Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a music executive with personal and business problems who finds himself drunk and in a bar when Greta (Keira Knightly) reluctantly takes to the stage with her guitar. While the majority of those in the bar take no notice, Dan sees something in her music and persuades her to make an album with him using New York as the backdrop.
While watching Begin Again I couldn’t help comparing it to the Jon Favreau movie Chef (2014). They are both the same story. A man in crisis finds a muse to find his lust for life again while reconnecting with his family. The difference between the two movies is that the muse in this case is Kiera Knightly while in Chef it was food. The other big difference is that I couldn’t connect with this film. While Mark Ruffalo puts in an excellent performance I found his character very difficult to like and at times I thought he was a pretty unpleasant fellow.
The other main weakness the movie has is that the original music which I was hoping would be a big draw lacked a hook and sounded pretty similar no matter what location was being featured. The best song is the one you hear during the trailer and features at the end of the movie when it is sung by Greta’s ex, Dave, who is played by Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine.
There is solid support from James Corden and Hailee Steinfeld as Greta’s friend and Dan’s daughter respectively. I know that this film has been favourably received and I totally understand why but I couldn’t connect with the Mark Ruffalo character and Keira Knightly’s Greta is very one dimensional – young lady travels to New York with boyfriend who meets other lady. We learn very little else about her throughout the movie. In terms of feelgood Chef is the superior product for me.