Begin Again (4 stars)

Begin Again

Equally sweet and endearing quasi-sequel to music-driven Once starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo

How do you follow an Oscar-winning charmer like Once? It hasn't been easy for director John Carney. Did anyone see the comedy Zonad? He is back on form with Begin Again (originally entitled Can A Song Save Your Life?), a quasi-sequel to Once. Twice maybe? Once More with Feeling?

Begin Again is equally sweet and endearing and definitely not for the cynical as it gathers together another unlikely couple. Greta (Keira Knightley) is a winsome English singer / songwriter left high and dry in New York after her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) hits the big time and decides to opt for some conscious uncoupling. Fortunately, cheery busker pal Steve (James Corden) is on hand to offer shelter and confidence-boosting. At the same time, washed-up recording executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) stumbles into an East Village bar where Greta is performing and decides that she deserves a shot at an album that he will personally produce on the streets of the Big Apple.

Begin Again is a New York fairytale but a fairly irresistible one thanks to the actors. Knightley is such a variable, unpredictable performer but really fits the character on this occasion and can sing quite pleasantly in a Katie Melua / Norah Jones manner. There's also a nice, dry humour to some of her comments as she declares ‘I'm not Judy Garland off a Greyhound bus’. Mark Ruffalo is even better as a scruffy, roguish hustler who still has the passion to follow the music wherever it might lead him. He is charmingly disreputable whether trying to sustain a relationship with his weary daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld) or create an album that flies in the face of all the bland product championed by an industry he has grown to despise. His creative rebirth is the element of Begin Again that brings the biggest smile to your face.

General release from Fri 11 Jul.

Begin Again - Trailer

Begin Again

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 44min
  • Directed by: John Carney
  • Written by: John Carney
  • Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Cee-lo Green, Catherine Keener
  • UK release: 11 July 2014

Two songwriting and romantic partners have their bubble burst when Dave (Levine) gets a major label record deal and casts Gretta (Knightley) aside. But Gretta gets her own back when she meets her own label exec, the quirky Dan (Ruffalo), who takes her down an indie route. From the writer-director of Once.