Something Light for the Summer Movie Doldrums
BEGIN AGAIN (2013/IN THEATERS) Here’s a definite B movie that actually plays pretty well, especially if you happen to like Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley (which I do). The film is written and directed by John Carney, the Irishman whose first film, Once (2006), had a bit of magic in it—the story of two unlikely musicians who team up and fall in love, on screen and in real life, making great music together on the way by. “Once” has gone on to Broadway, you know—and the couple is no more. Ironically, Mr. Carney centers his new film on the whole topic of commercialism in the music world and an exploration of “true” music and musicians, basically telling the tale of two outcasts from the world of record labels who meet by chance in a bar and team up to “beat the system.” Ruffalo plays Dan, a former wunderkind of indie record labels, who is kicked out by his own partner (played by Mos Def) from the company he helped create. Knightley plays Gretta, the “true musician” of the piece who writes songs just to write them. Cast as the definite sell-out in this flick is none other than Adam Levine who plays Ms. Knightley’s boyfriend Dave, her lover and partner in music. Gretta writes many of the songs Dave sings and the two appear completely devoted to one another. As the movie opens, they are enroute to an apartment in NYC, part of a deal he has closed with a U.S. record label. Soon, of course, he is whisked off to LA for a series of recording sessions, and upon his return, promptly dumps Gretta for someone else. Luckily for our heroine, a good friend from the UK lives in the Big Apple and puts her up. This is Steve, played by an adorable James Corden. Steve just happens to also have a serious set-up for home-grown recording. And so the plot thickens. Dan hears the potential in Gretta’s music and sets up a series of street level recording sessions, all to produce something his former partner will want. There are other characters as well—Dan’s daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld) and his currently estranged wife Miriam (Catherine Keener), as well as his long-time friend in the industry TroubleGum (CeeLo Green). I found the film to be engaging and fun, particularly during the street-level recording sessions. And the cast is great. But is the film memorable? Not at all. So, what is it exactly? I’d say a light-hearted movie that’s trying to make a big point. Enjoy it for what it is, if you go. Or wait for the RedBox. No problem.