begin_again_xxlgBegin Again is all about the transformative power of music. In it a down on his luck, alcoholic ex-record company executive discovers a down on her luck songwriter and the two of them help one another come back into the world of the living. That the two are played by Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley helps this pretty simple story become more than the sums of its parts. It is a thoroughly entertaining little film, especially for music lovers.

The gist of the story is that Dan has let things slide for a while, losing his job with the record label he founded, and becoming estranged from his wife (Catherine Keener) and teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). He drunkenly stumbles into open mike night at a local bar and discovers singer/songwriter Gretta, recently dumped by her boyfriend/writing partner Dave (played by Sexist Man Alive Adam Levine). While the rest of the people in the bar hear only a singer on the stage singing a simple song, in a totally fun imagining Dan hears (and sees) her with a fully produced accompaniment of piano, strings, drums, etc. And so he talks her out of running home to England to lick her wounds and into letting him produce an album for her. 1404219002_adam-levine-begin-again-467And they decide to forgo a studio and shoot the album in all the iconic locations of New York City, which turns out to be a lot of fun. And the rest of the film is the two of them making beautiful music together and healing their wounds.

The film is funny and sweet, and the performances of the leads are at times a little heartbreaking. But at the end, it is a charming little feel good movie. The rest of the cast is also pretty wonderful, especially Hailee Steinfeld as the teen daughter trying to find her footing. CeeLo Green’s cameo is fun, though Adam Levine should probably stick to music. I would recommend Begin Again for most audiences, unless you are a music hater. (Are there really any of those out there?) And it would be a great date movie. Be sure to bring a headphone splitter for some after movie sharing. (See the movie and you’ll know what I mean.)

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