My rating: 8
IMDB rating: 7.6
IMDB link: Begin Again
I have to admit that I was somewhat afraid to watch this film. Watching director John Carney’s second “big” musical and this time mainstream musical, seem to me like a cliche in the making… but I was pleasantly surprised!!
Everything that I felt wrong with Once (his previous film, that I also reviewed) was addressed in this film; the slow-moving narrative was replaced by a flowing attention-grabbing plot, the shaky-cam was traded for beautiful shots of New York City and contemporary hipster culture, fitting to the music, was emphasized. The director did not betray himself to the mainstream though, as with Once this film is also about (different) heartbreaks and its (different) impacts.
Both films also trade their feel-good, happy ending for a consuming finish that really gives no final resolution. As with Once, the relationship between the main characters does not grow into love, it rather reinstates certain loves already present in their lives.
Looking at the actors; I would definitely say that the biggest surprise is Mark Ruffalo. He achieves that delicate mix between sympathy for and anger towards the main character that always make for a very convincing lead. His artistic notions and the way he views music, places the viewer in a very exciting position as witness to his philosophical journey back to the true meaning of music.
In South Africa, where I live, they also make musicals (believe it or not), but it is seldom any good because the lyrics to the songs that need to contribute to the narrative, is just simply too forced. But with this film, every song plays his part as supporter of the over-arching narrative and surprises with lyrics like:
“Don’t you dare let all our best memories bring you sorrow
Yesterday I saw a lion kiss a deer
Turn the page maybe we’ll find a brand new ending
Where we’re dancing in our tears…”~ Lost Stars (Adam Levine)
All in all, I would definitely recommend this unique musical that features some beautiful camera work, great acting and an overall lack of RomCom cliches.
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