Begin Again

Wherein Keira Knightly works on her brand

The biggest mistake you can make going into Begin Again is thinking “It’s the Hollywood version of Once.” Because it kind of is—boy (Mark Ruffalo) meets girl (Keira Knightley), makes pretty music in cheap, innovative ways, there is some Sex Tension—but Begin Again has neither the songs (these are by Gregg Alexander, the “Get What You Give” guy) nor the naturalist performances of non-actors Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. What John Carney’s followup does have is a nice debate about art versus commerce, Catherine Keener, Knightley’s pretty decent voice and a slightly unhinged performance from Ruffalo as a music exec in the worst stretch of his life. It’s in parts painfully earnest, never more so than when Ruffalo sees instruments come to life while Knightley plays alone onstage, but it moves along at a nice clip and the recording scenes are shot well. If you’re a sensitive artist type struggling with the idea of personal branding this would be a good thing to check out. Trigger warning: Adam Levine.

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