Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Catherine Keener, Yasiin “Mos Def” Bey and Cee Lo Green.
Directed by John Carney
Writer/director John Carney (Once) has carved another loving tale about the art of music collaboration. Mark Ruffalo plays a down-on-his-luck music producer who happens to catch singer/songwriter Keira Knightley at a bar performing one of her songs. He decides she’s the next big thing, and he works with her on putting together an album. Meanwhile we get a lot of his backstory (separated from wife, sullen teenage daughter) and her backstory (dumped by musician boyfriend after he got famous) mingled with the music.
Carney does a nice job of not only populating the soundtrack but letting us watch the process of it being written, and it’s done in organic fashion. It’s impressive the way he’s able to craft it together. Most of the singing comes from Knightley, and while she’s obviously lip-syncing, it is her voice. I appreciate Carney taking this route with Knightley rather than the Russell Crowe in Les Miserables route. (Crowe can sing, but you wouldn’t know it from Les Miz.)
I liked Once a little more, but Begin Again is a good film in its own right. The fact that two of the judges from The Voice are in it is a little unnerving, but it’s really about Knightley and Ruffalo and the journey their characters take. And the ending? Perfect. Like the final note.