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Begin Again

Avoid this film like E coli if your instinctive reaction to all things infectiously sweet and sincere is spontaneous toe curling. The director is John Carney, who made the scruffy-gorgeous musical ‘Once’ for pennies on the streets of Dublin. Here he repeats the formula with proper money and stars. Keira Knightley is Greta, an English songwriter in New York who’s just been dumped by her rock-star boyfriend (we know something’s up when he starts growing twattish facial hair). Greta is singing a wrist-slitty break-up song at an open-mic night when she’s spotted by Dan, a washed-up record producer out on a bender (Mark Ruffalo: arrest that man, he’s too charming). Together they make an album using the sounds of New York as a backdrop.

‘Begin Again’ in no way has the rough-around-the-edges ring of truth of ‘Once’ – or the brilliant songs. And Carney can’t meet a cliché without tippy-toeing very close to it. But what makes it special is that it’s not another romance about finding a man. It’s about finding your people, about being a bit lost in your twenties and not knowing who you are or what you want to be. And it’s got bucketfuls of charm. 

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday July 11 2014
Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Carney
Screenwriter: John Carney
Cast: Keira Knightley
Mark Ruffalo
Hailee Steinfeld
Adam Levine

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 1 star:1
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Popcorn Pig

I haven't seen "Once" so I can't make any comparison, but I just found this film really sweet and gently funny. Mark Ruffalo is eminently watchable and Keira Knightly matches him for charm and naturalness. There are echoes of 'Lost in Translation' in their relationship. I didn't think it dragged at all, I would have happily spent more time with these characters. The songs are very likeable too.

Nick A

Not a patch on "Once", and even after two bum-numbing hours it's hard to believe in Keira Knightly as a singer/songwriter.  There's very little humour and yet it's not very serious - it's just a bit of fluff.  Mark Ruffalo is good but needed a stronger script and better opposite lead.  Would not recommend - better to watch "Once" a second time!