Begin Again (2013)

Passion for a Playlist

Songwriter Gretta (Keira Knightley) had headed to New York with her college sweetheart, Dave (Adam Levine), when he landed a recording deal with a major record label. But it doesn't take long for Dave to not only get caught up in his new lifestyle but he also ends up cheating on Gretta. Decamping to her friend Steve's (James Corden) she plans to fly home as soon as possible. But before she does Steve talks her in to performing one of her songs at a bar and that is where Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a down on his luck music producer, sees her and sees that her sound could be great. Having convinced Gretta to stay they assemble a small group and spend the summer recording her songs on the streets, roof tops and subways of New York which proves to be a life changing summer for them.

As I started watching "Begin Again" I felt like I wasn't going to enjoy it, it sounded a bit indie like with its New York music scene and a lifestyle very detached from the one I live now, a lifestyle I have witnessed on screen before and thought it was as realistic as a group of kids from a performing art school taking to the streets and dancing on top of cars. But the more you watch the more you become enchanted, the more wonderful this movie becomes and the more you fall in love with the character of Dan because he lives life on his terms, he believes in the beauty of music, not as a product but as part of life. He is the sort of man who when he died the words "he did it his way" would be engraved on his grave stone.

Yes "Begin Again" is a movie which succeeds because of Mark Ruffalo who can go from playing cops to charismatic wrestlers without seeming to struggle. It is because of Ruffalo bringing out the love of music in Dan in a natural way that you get sucked in to this movie. It is his enthusiasm, his vision, his passion which is the heart beat of this movie. And it is all the more powerful because Ruffalo makes Dan one of life's characters who even when things are going bad still seems to have a smile on his face not because he is happy but he can see the perverseness of life whilst being pissed off. Yes there are other good performances; James Corden brings some humour whilst Hailee Steinfeld looks good when she nervously rocks it out but this movie belongs to Ruffalo.

And here is the truth. If I took Mark Ruffalo out of this movie and replaced him with another actor who did an okay job I would have ended up bored as hell. As I said before, the culture and lifestyle on show in this movie is fiction to me and watching Keira Knightley as Gretta and her adhoc band perform songs on streets, roof tops and subways didn't do much for me, yes some of the songs were nice but as I write this I have forgotten them. And to be honest scenes of walking through streets listening to someone's play list, going dancing whilst still listening to that play list and so on also does nothing for me as this simply doesn't happen in my world.

What this all boils down to is that despite not expecting to I enjoyed "Begin Again" and truth be told I would watch it again some time in the future. But it is the performance of Mark Ruffalo which makes the movie as he brings out his character's passion for music which is so intoxicating.