Begin Again, written and directed by John Carney (Once), is the best musical film so far in 2014.
Carney brings together an impressive cast in the 104-minute musical: Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Yasiin Bey, Cee Lo Green, and Catherine Keener.
What Carney did for Once has worked once more in the soul-stirring comedy, Begin Again. He documents what happens when the power of music changes the lives and fortunes of a struggling singer-songwriter, Gretta (Knightley), and a past-his-prime record executive, Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo). Dan’s marriage to Miriam (Keener) is failing, his career is falling apart, and he has no connection with his daughter, Violet (Steinfeld).
Through flashbacks, we find out that Dave (Levine) lands a deal with a major record label in New York and moves with his college sweetheart and songwriting partner, Gretta (Knightley). Soon, Dave is spending major time on the road and without Gretta so it’s no surprise that he gets tempted to stray, leaving Gretta on her own.
Betrayed by Dave, Gretta is at her lowest moment and is on the brink of giving up on her dreams. At the same time, Dan hears her singing on an East Village stage and takes a chance on her.
Dan is captivated by Gretta’s raw talent and tells her what he sees in her future. One chance encounter is all it takes to get this mutually transformative collaboration going forward. They are brought together by inspiration and desperation. Their musical partnership develops into friendship and their lives soon take unexpected turns.
Dan soon sets to recruit session musicians and arranges a meeting with Troublegum (Green), who agrees to pay for them as he supports what they are doing together.
Rather than record an album in a studio and pay for space, Dan gets this crazy idea to record it all outside and set to the soundtrack of a New York City summer. It’s a crazy idea but it works.
Distributed by the Weinstein Company and Exclusive Media, this indie musical is produced by Anthony Bregman, Tobin Armbrust, and Judd Apatow. What I love about Judd Apatow producing such a movie is that it’s not the typical fare that he is usually produces.