Do you ever find a movie, or a book, or a TV show, something that catches you in just the right moment? Speaks to your current mood? Makes you smile? Makes you happy?
The movie, Begin Again was that movie for me this weekend.
I went to see it without knowing much about it except that it had Keira Knightley (who is Elizabeth Bennet in one of my favorites, Pride&Prejudice) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner in the Avengers, but also lovable Matt in 13 Going on 30). I knew it was about music, but that was about it. I went in with no real expectations.
I really enjoyed the movie. I had a friend post on Facebook a brief review that said it started out kinda angsty – and I would agree. It starts out establishing where the characters are at in their lives when they meet. Neither is in a good place. The story really gets going when they meet and begin to work together.
I’ve seen the movie billed as a romantic comedy. I wouldn’t say it’s a romantic comedy. This is not a story of two characters coming together to fall in love with each other. No, these characters come together for a different partnership. It’s really about discovering themselves again and changing the direction of their lives.
Ruffalo’s Dan is floundering professionally and in his family life. He has lost control of his music development and production company and is estranged from his wife and daughter, living in a sad little apartment alone.
Knightley’s Gretta is a singer/songwriter who came to New York, “tagging along” with her emerging artist boyfriend and is essentially lost in the shuffle as he takes off into his new rock star life.
Dan has previously shown talent for finding new artists and helping to develop, nurture and market them. He sees Gretta’s potential and wants to work with her. The movie centers on that partnership.
What is so fun, so joyful about this movie is that they both are at a point where they can have a ‘Well Why The Hell Not?’ attitude and can take chances.
Why not try this crazy idea of recording this album together? Why not challenge what’s conventionally done? Why not bring in artists that might not otherwise be used? Why not take a chance on ourselves and others?
The heart of the movie, where it really sings, is where they are recording the demo all around New York. Everyone seems to be having fun with it. Dan comes to life again during the process and the joy is infectious. I don’t know about the others in the audience but I was having fun along the way, too.
I also enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially our main characters, but also all of the many in the great cast of characters.
Dan’s relationship with his daughter, Violet, played by Hailee Steinfield, starts out awkwardly, but then builds as the movie goes on and you find yourself cheering for him to mend that relationship and really be a dad for her. His wife, played by Catherine Keener, doesn’t get nearly enough screen time because she’s fantastic.
Gretta’s boyfriend, Dave, played by Adam Levine is believable, if a little unlikeable. You can see the star quality, the performer on the stage, but despite his real life wattage, I
mainly just hated his beard. :)
The character I absolutely love in this movie is Gretta’s friend, Steve (James Corden) from back home that she finds in the city. He seemed like the kind of friend we all would love to have. He sees her in a moment of heartbreak and literally drops what he is doing to hold her. He comforts her, but he laughs with her, too. He pushes her when she needs it and supports her through it all. I just loved him.
What really spoke to me in this sweet little movie was the theme of beginning again.
It’s never too lateto begin again. It’s never too late – with your career, with love, with your family, with your friendships, with your life. It’s never too late to find joy. It’s never too late to dare to try something different. It’s never too late to imagine that your life can be different.