What up, Buttercups?
I came across this movie during the start of 2016. It was a dark time for me and this film was the beginning of me pulling myself out of it.
Being totally upfront about it, this is one of my favourite movies. I’ve watched it a couple of times and there is something about the energy they put into making this that make me want to pick up and instrument, write a song and try to take the world by storm.
At its heart Begin Again is a story of self-discovery. It paints a lovely glossy picture of musicians and the creative process. A somewhat truncated and idealised version but there is nothing sexy or fun about someone umming and arring over a chorus for a week until it comes to them in the shower.
That issue aside. It is a fantastic film if you love music.
It centres around Gretta (Keira Knightly) and Dan (Mark Ruffalo) and their attempts to put together an album as well as their lives. Gretta’s is falling apart after her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) is signed to a major record label and cheats on her. Dan loses his job, his wife had an affair and his relationship with her is strained and next to non-existent with his teenage daughter.
During the recording of the album using the city as a studio Gretta gets over Dave and Dan manges to piece his life together, rediscovering his love for the music business through Gretta’s idealism.
I should mention that James Corden plays the role of comedy sidekick; breaking out a kazzoo to amazing effect. At first, I questioned his role in the film but he provides a few good laughs and more than that he is the essential anchor that keeps Gretta in America instead of returning home to the UK.
There are a few famous musical faces that pop up throughout the film Mos Def plays a drawling record company executive who’s only goal is the bottom line. CeeLo Green makes an appearance playing Troublegum who I assume is a version of his real self.
The film is shot with real love and care – even down to the scene where Dan sings Gretta’s song in the shower – and there are some amazing set pieces. The first being Dan seeing Gretta perform in a bar and all the other instruments coming to life around her even though she is the only one on stage as his imagination fills in the rest of the arrangement.
The next being the absolutely stunning rooftop recording session. While it is only maybe ten minutes long at the outset it is one of my favourite scenes in the film and in cinema altogether. There is such a sense of energy to it that makes you want to pick up a guitar of beat a drum or just dance. It captures how music should make you feel; that sitting still is the worst possible thing you can do at that moment.
It runs at barely more than an hour and a half and it is totally worth every moment.
It is a seriously good film if you want something to make you smile and if you are in need of something to inspire the musician in you, then this is definitely the film for you.