Going into this film I had very high hopes. This is the second film from John Carney, director to Once which a lot of people know is my favourite film of all time. When I heard about this film and saw the trailer I was instantly excited. A very similar story to Once, it’s about two musician who finds connection through music.
Before I go on, I love the film. I thought it was fun, exciting, full of life and energy. The performance is fantastic, the music is great and it has that independent spirit that made Once. The question on everyone’s mind is: is it better than Once? No. Not anywhere close. Once is in a very different league. The thing you have to realize is that Once was a purely independent film. Low budget, non-actors, stop and go filming, the works. What gave Once the status it has now, is the music, the characters and the emotions. Begin Again has these qualities, but not to the depth of Once. With Once you have time to invest with the characters and go on their journey at a steady pace. Begin Again goes at a million miles an hour with fireworks going off in the background. It’s a fast paced story with an arguably more mainstream soundtrack.
Going into the story of Begin Again, it’s about a washed up music producer who meets a singer-songwriter going through a recent breakup. They meet during an open mic night and that’s where the magic starts. They go off to record an album in a very independent fashion.
The film is really about the music and the independent movement. It’s about staying pure and being in the biz for the love of it and not the paycheck. It’s about not selling out and working for your work. There is a point in the film where this really rings true. SPOILER After her ex went on to record an album, Knightley meets up with him to listen to the album. One of the songs was one she wrote for him and it was an intimate and personal song. The version she is listening to is a very mainstream, detached piece that takes away the feeling in the song. Dave, the ex, invites Knightley to a show and she urges him to play the song the way it was originally meant to be played. With her present, Dave does this and the fans loves it which really touches Knightley. She feels like she’s made a difference, that her song is loved in it’s purest form. This then sets a series of other events but that’s something to be left untold.
Again, the music is the real protagonist of this film and is something that the characters really use to communicate. SPOILER Two very powerful scenes prove this. There was a break up scene told through a song and the beginnings of a marriage which started by listening to music together and saying very little. Something that I urge people to do when watching this is to really listen to the lyrics of the songs as they are actually telling the story more than the film itself.
Begin Again is a very fun and enjoyable film. Not done to the same standard as Once but miles ahead of a lot of other films. A mainstream film told with an independent spirit and a fantastic soundtrack.