‘Begin Again’ is a beautiful film about love, heartbreak, betrayal, dreams and music – themes we encounter in our lives everyday.
A small-time songwriter dumps her singer boyfriend as he cheats on her with his producer’s assistant. Like many showbiz stories, she’s then discovered by a disgraced music producer at a pub. But what follows is anything but predictable. Having no money or a recording studio, they decide to record the album in the open spaces of New York city – including in their music sounds from the streets, trains and a man abusing them at night as they record a song on the terrace.
In the middle of all this, she reaches out to her ex-boyfriend through a voice mail to tell him that he has ‘broken every single fucking rule’ and she has still loved him like a ‘fool’. That’s her response to the way he has commercialised ‘their’ song – Lost Stars – that she wrote for him. The song gets him an award, but she hates the way he has bastardised it and played it to the gallery.
She eventually dumps him, and dumps the possibility of commercial success through her own album by selling her tracks for a buck online (that eventually fetch 10,000 hits a day). But, because of her album the producer gets his job back and reunites with his wife and daughter. In any other film, and definitely in Bollywood, the two miserable individuals would have ended up falling in love or sleeping together. Although there was an opportunity in the film to do just that, but the attraction is so subtle that thankfully nothing dramatically cliched takes place between – and that’s not the film only top selling point. The film’s music has a dialogue of its own, my favourite is ‘Like a fool.’
Mark Ruffalo is brilliant as a devastated music producer, who finds redemption in his own business. Keira Knightley is The Heroine. She’s gorgeous and so talented in her role as an independent songwriter who’s hurt in love, but finds peace and freedom through music.
In the end, she rides a bicycle through New York, probably feeling liberated at last – not only from being cheated in love and music, but also free from the potential dangers of commercial success of the entertainment industry.
‘Begin Again’ is not a film about fame or money. It’s about being happy and free, not suffering, but living.