2014-07-25 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


Begin Again – Once Is Enough
By Robert Snyder

Once upon a time, there was a low-budget film hit named, Once. Written and directed by John Carney, it struck a chord, won an audience and an Oscar, then spawned a smash Broadway musical.

Carney is trying to make lightning strike again with his new film, Begin Again. Except now, it’s big budget with big stars. He follows the same formula: Two misfits joined by their love of music. Bucking the system, they create a great original sound on the streets and go on to super success.

The show biz fantasy doesn’t work this time. Despite the considerable acting talent, the music is mediocre. Burned out record exec Dan (Mark Ruffalo) hears an angel on open-mike night at a Manhattan bar and is transfixed by her simple soulful singing. She’s Gretta (Keira Knightley), halfhearted English songstress, recently dumped by her onthe rise rock star boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine). Crashing with her musician pal, Steve (James Corden), Gretta is licking her wounds before heading back to England.

But, no, says Dan, stay in the Big Apple and make an album on the streets, rooftops and Central Park rowboats. They grab some stray, but brilliant musicians and craft, “A tribute to this beautiful fractured mess of a city.”

The sweet dream has its moments. There must be, with such talent assembled. Though hopelessly alcoholic, Dan even cleans up his act with estranged wife, Miriam (Catherine Keener) and troubled teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). Funds come from rich super rapper Troublegum (Cee Lo Green).

The music of Begin Again is hardly Starting Over. Carney is asking the audience to believe in magic that just isn’t there in our ears.

Once, it was. Once it isn’t.

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