STARRING: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener
DIRECTOR: John Carney
THE SKINNY: Alcoholic record producer Dan (Ruffalo) is fired from the company he helped found. One night in a bar, he hears Greta (Knightley) performing and decides he can save his career by making her a star. The pair set out to record an album on the streets of New York. Meanwhile, Dan tries to repair his relationship with his estranged wife (Keener) and daughter (Steinfeld).
THE CONSENSUS: The music is great and Knightley is surprisingly good. A genuinely emotional experience.
Director Carney burst onto the scene with Once back in 2006.
An indie movie about Irish street musicians, Once was made for a few hundred thousand bucks and went on to earn more than ten million and bagged an Oscar.
It's a masterpiece and you should totally track it down.
Sadly, Carney followed up Once with a couple of flicks that went absolutely nowhere (Zonad, anyone?).
After nearly a decade of puttering, he's finally back to doing what he was apparently born to do - combining music and pictures to create movie magic.
Begin Again is basically a celebration of creation, an intimate look at the transformative power of bringing art in the world.
Working hard to make something great brings out the best in people, forging bonds and generating memories that can last a lifetime.
Rudderless Ruffalo becomes a new man as he's caught up in the thrill of piecing the album together.
Knightley transforms from a dilettante into a true musician. Ruffalo's daughter Steinfeld blossoms.
There are moments in Begin Again that made tears stream down my face, just through the beauty of the music.
In my opinion, there are way too many movies about cops, gangsters, soldiers, zombies etceteras.
True heroes aren't the ones who kill and destroy.
True heroes are the ones whose creative pursuits make the world just that bit more tolerable.
Who would have thought Knightley could hold a tune?
It's always interesting to see the British actress in modern garb.
Here, she trades corsets for guitars and, boy, does she surprise with her fragile yet wholesome voice.
Another surprise is to see Levine, in his movie debut, playing the douchebag rocker so naturally.
The Maroon 5 frontman gets to belt out some tunes to show off his famous falsetto, but Knightley is the real catch here.
Apparently, she picked up her guitar playing skills from husband James Righton of the UK indie band Klaxons.
Aside from impressing with her singing, Knightley also brings across many heartfelt moments.
It helps that she has a winning chemistry with Ruffalo at possibly the gruffiest and scruffiest he has ever been on screen.
The problem with this movie is the straightforward plot. Many opportunities to go deeper with each character are wasted.
That's a shame, given the strong cast assembled by director Carney.
Besides Knightley and Ruffalo, there's also Keener and Steinfeld, yet he didn't give any of them much room to elevate their roles.
The saving grace is the music. The tunes are catchy and the lyrics offer moments of genuine emotion. Everyone raves about power ballad Lost Stars, but the standout is Like A Fool - a real heartbreaker delivered via voicemail.