View Full Version : Begin Again (John Carney)

07-17-2014, 09:30 PM
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07-17-2014, 09:43 PM
It's been years since I last watched Carney's Once, but this one is much more tied to monologuing and fleshing out "character," which isn't Carney's strong suit. There are two or three occasions where Knightley or Ruffalo thematize an issue and it's just a bit too either/or Screenwriting 101. And Ruffalo's character feels less interesting to me than Corden's character--I'm far interested in a film about Knightley and him struggling to get by. Ruffalo's character has too much baggage, as though Carney doesn't trust the narrative dilemma itself.

That said, there's still an easy energy and joy when Carney focuses on the creative process. These songs aren't quite as immediate (though "Lost Stars" and the band jam on the rooftop ["Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home"] are solid stuff) as the Once tracks, but that actually works toward the film's credit. These are songs that I can easily see 10,000+ people identifying with, just as I empathize with stuff like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten that others likely don't see as widely talented. And again, there's a glee to the creative process that's wonderful to see, even if all the compliments that these people pay to one another's tracks seems a bit too precious.

Decent with some quality moments throughout it, but it feels like two separate films designed for separate audiences, mostly with the studio-approved character arcs, clash against the more DIY and just-about-the-music-ness of it all.

Tasha Robinson's review over at The Dissolve (http://thedissolve.com/reviews/892-begin-again/) captures the back-and-forth I felt quite wonderfully.

07-18-2014, 03:18 PM
There are moments where my feeling towards this is like Knightley's character insisting with her boyfriend about authenticity. The film's twee, quirks (ugh CeeLo), and preciousness kinda go against that prominent message. Her "big guilty pleasure song" scene seems especially designed to generate eye-rolls, although she and Ruffalo roaming through the city at night is very charming. Moments like that keep the film afloat. Unlike you I find the relationship between Ruffalo and Knightley the biggest strength, even though its best element seems lifted from his last film (their silent moment together at the end). I still like Carney's sensibility a lot, and I hope he keeps it simple (which makes Once so powerful to me) next time.