The greatest thing about Begin Again is its authenticity. Whether this is a result of great acting, great directing or the camera capturing real moments between actors doesn’t really matter. The chemistry and resulting bond that develops between Greta (played by Kiera Knightly) and Dan (Mark Ruffalo’s character) feels so natural; it sneaks up on you. The actors are so committed to their characters they evoke no memory of roles they’ve played in the past. Mark Ruffalo isn’t The Hulk or a sperm donor for a lesbian couple, he is a frustrated agent with a passion for music and a complicated family life. Kiera Knightley isn’t Anna Karenina or the fearless, swashbuckling star-crossed lover of William Turner, she is a young, innocent woman with a natural talent for making music who becomes lost in a new and unfamiliar world. James Corden is, well, James Corden with a guitar, but this is exactly what his role calls for, and he is fantastic. Adam Levine is a talented and (as a result) ego-inflated jerk, and the same can be said of his character in the film. Hah, sorry, I had to.
Dan and Greta are two quite different people, but their shared interest in real, emotion-evoking music brings them together and in turn into each other’s hearts. This, I think, is what makes this film so special. The greatest movies take you completely inside the world of the characters and immerses you in the story. Begin Again achieves this and takes you to every street corner, subway, shitty apartment and cafe with Dan and Greta. It also takes you into their lives and struggles. The audience feels the chaotic energy of New York and the heartache, confusion and joy of the characters, yet it’s never overwhelming or calculated.
Begin Again is storytelling as it’s most elegant and affecting. When you feel as though the actors you are watching are simply people, roles, scripts, sets and cameras fall away and you are left with the heart and soul of the story. I don’t want to spoil the film by describing any specific scenes or re-telling any specific conversations so the only other thing I will add is that this is a film for anyone and everyone. It isn’t just for indie movie lovers, music industry haters, Kiera Knightley adorers, Adam Levine fan girls, or big city dreamers, it’s for all of them.
Begin Again is a film for anyone who’s every been confused, lonely, uncertain, in love or heart broken, or all of those things.