‘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 then sells her music for a buck, on the web, that eventually fetches her 10,000 hits a day. Because of her album the disgraced producer gets his job back, and reunites with his wife and daughter. In a Bollywood film, for example, 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 them – and that’s not the film only top selling point. The film’s music has a dialogue of its own, and my favourite is ‘Like a fool.’
Mark Ruffalo is brilliant as the 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 in her music, but also free from the potential dangers of commercial success of the entertainment industry.
‘Begin Again’ is not just a film about success or music. It’s about breaking the cycle of suffering, and being happy and free.