I haven’t been wandering the cool confines of a movie theater much this summer. Declining ticket sales can be explained by not wanting to spend the money and just not having much time, but more than anything? There hasn’t been much I’ve wanted to see. No preview that’s really tickled my fancy.
But at the suggestion of my family, we trekked out to see “Begin Again” on Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect beyond Adam Levine being a bad boyfriend and Keira Knightley singing (?) and Mark Ruffalo being totally down on his luck . . . and maybe that’s why I was completely blown away?
Because I was. I was blown away. It was actually . . . amazing.
Knightley plays Gretta, a young musician who follows her boyfriend (Levine) and his own rising star to New York City. Nervously playing in a grungy bar the night before she’s set to flee home to England, she attracts the attention of a music executive whose recent antics have gotten him ousted from the indie label he founded. Hearing Gretta — even amidst the rude shouting and drunken chatter — reignites his desire to produce music that means something, and the two embark on a journey that changes everything.
That’s the simple version. But it doesn’t tell you anything about how romantic, sweet, inspiring, thoughtful and beautifully shot it is; you need me for that, eh? “Begin Again” is about second chances, moving forward, thriving in the face of loss . . . and it’s just full of emotion, though not in a schmaltzy way. I’m not generally a huge fan of Keira Knightley — nothing personal, I mean, she’s just not a fave — but wow, color me impressed. And Adam Levine as a self-absorbed but loveable pop star? I totally bought it.
I kid. But really, his acting? Singing? Ability to look gorgeous? Not bad.
As you’d hope from a film about aspiring musicians and the ever-changing business itself, the tunes and soundtrack were fantastic. As we were leaving the theater, I told my sister how much it reminded me of the lovely “Once” . . . and then I started to Google and discovered it was directed by John Carney, who directed — you guessed it! — “Once.” (It’s, um, also on the poster, but I didn’t inspect that ahead of time.) Glen Hansard co-wrote a song, too.
When I’m on, I’m on.
The many layers of “Begin Again” are what made it work so spectacularly for me — and more than anything, it’s an homage to falling in love. With a person or a place (New York City, indeed), yes, but also a passion and a calling. The whole film is about passion, really, and it moved me. I can’t pinpoint another recent movie I’ve loved as much — so much that I’d run back out and see it again tomorrow.
I’m pretty much in love with “Lost Stars,” one of the signature tracks, and have played it more than I’d care to admit to you before we’ve all had our coffee.
That’s pretty much what I wanted to talk about today, mostly because I’m heading into one of the busiest work weeks of my year and my brain is pretty much guaranteed to be crispy like a fried-green tomato by Friday evening. I kind of want to just think about “Begin Again” like a fangirl, eat lots of marshmallows and hide under my desk, but I am 29 now. Guess I’d better go put on my sensible work heels and hustle.
Or maybe I’ll keep watching the video instead.