Monday, July 21, 2014

Begin Again Review

Last weekend the movie Begin Again showed up in my local theater. Now it may seem weird for some of you, but I actually didn't know a whole lot about the movie before it showed up. I could've done a bunch of research before seeing it to figure out where it came from, because it was one of those limited release movies that sometimes come out of nowhere to get a wide release, but I instead decided to do things the old-fashioned way and go into the movie without knowing anything about it. Sometimes that's fun. All I knew that it was a movie starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo and it was getting good reviews. That's about it. I suppose that can be a risky experience, but it's fun and I don't get to do that very often with how much I choose read up on movies, so I enjoyed the experience. And turns out it worked out quite well! Begin Again is a fabulous movie that you should go find in your local theater.

After seeing the movie is when I looked up more information on it. It turns out that the previous title was Can a Song Save Your Life? That actually rang a bell and suddenly I remember hearing about the title change, which I approve of. Begin Again is a better title. As both titles suggest, though, this movie is about redemption. Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley are both in awful situations and the moment where they meet is the moment where things start to change and they are given the opportunity to begin again. I did find it interesting how the movie begins with this moment, then goes back to tell both of their back stories individually up to that point. Ruffalo was a music producer who recently lost his job and had his wife of 18 years cheat on him. Meanwhile, Keira Knightley's boyfriend and music partner has found sudden fame and decides he needs to try his luck with another girl. After these events, Knightley and Ruffalo both end up in a bar. Knightley is pushed into performing a song almost against her will by another friend. This song catches the attention of Ruffalo and thus sparks this grand journey where they are out to create a new album of music together.

In addition to being a movie about redemption and new beginnings, this is also a movie about music. This really isn't a chick-flick or a romance drama at all. The comparison that was going through my mind the whole movie was Inside Llewyn Davis. For those of you who never saw Inside Llewyn Davis, it was a movie about a folk singer back in the 60's trying to make his way in the world. Personally I thought the plot was a bit lacking, but the strength of the movie was the music. There are a lot of folk songs that are sung throughout the movie and it is rather beautiful. It's even more impressive knowing that most of the music was performed and recorded live for the movie. As a side note, it also stars new Star Wars Episode VII cast members Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac for those of you wanting to know more about what they can do. But anywho, Begin Again is the same style where the music they perform throughout the movie is what makes this movie great. I don't know if it was performed live like in Inside Llewyn Davis, but from what I have been able to tell the vocal talent isn't doctored or auto-tuned. I believe it's Keira Knightley's legit singing voice, which gives her kudos.

The cast in this movie is really good. Mark Ruffalo did a fantastic job as always, but as I said Keira Knightley is the big star of this movie with her acting skills and her voice. In interviews Keira mentioned that she was never much of a singer, so this role was way out of her comfort zone and I really appreciate it when an actor is willing do such a thing. But not just that, I think she did a good job. It also has to be mentioned that Adam Levine is in this movie in his acting debut. I thought that was an interesting casting choice because, while he played a very appropriate role as a music star, the man's voice is very unique. Once again I'm going to turn to Inside Llewyn Davis as a comparison. That movie had Justin Timberlake as one of the characters who sang a few songs. I personally thought that was perfect because if you hadn't known that was Timberlake going in, you could've been fooled because he did a good job of disappearing into his role. Adam Levine tried to disappear into his role, and he actually did a great acting job, but his voice won't let him disappear into the role. Every time he sang, all I could think of was Maroon 5. And that was kinda silly. This must be an alternate universe where the world where the band Maroon 5 doesn't exist.

Overall, this was a movie that I was very impressed with. Yes, I was thinking Inside Llewyn Davis the entire time, but that's not a bad thing. I love music dramas. And I actually would say that this movie is better than Inside Llewyn Davis because it had an interesting plot where drama and resolution actually happened. The acting was great. The story had a good message with interesting drama. And the music was fantastic. I was actually almost left unsatisfied with the ending because the end credits rolled before the story seemed to be resolved and I was about to be mad at then, but then the movie finished during the credits. That was a bit strange, but it worked. This movie isn't necessarily an epic movie going experience. It probably won't win any huge awards at the Oscars this year, but it was a very enjoyable couple of hours and is well worth your time. I give Begin Again a solid 8/10.

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