If musical comedy-drama Begin again has such a likeability, maybe it is because everybody involved seems to be having the time of their lives. Writer-director John Carney previously directed indie hit Once. Begin again starts as Greta (Keira Knightley) reluctantly agrees to sing one of her own song at an open mike. Down-on his-luck record producer Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), stares at her mesmerised. While she sees only faults in her performance and the song she wrote, he only hears good things. Reassuringly for us, Dan’s perception of Greta’s talent is not romantic, but professional. Greta has broken up with her boyfriend Dave (singer Adam Levine, a revelation here), who has just signed a deal with a major record label. Dan is drinking too much. His ex-wife (Catherine Keener) believes he is a bad influence on their teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). When Dan proposes to record a demo, Greta is gradually won over by Dan’s passion and conviction. One of the great idea they have is to record the songs on the streets, rooftops and other public places in New York (New York becomes a character in Begin again). There is not one false note in Begin again. The cast (which includes Cee Lo Green) is as perfect as can be. Keira Knightley wears her character like a second skin, and her singing is impressive as it takes center stage in this film. Mark Ruffalo has a knack for playing people whose actions are making us laugh and cringe simultaneous. Ruffalo has us in the palm of his hand from the start. The songs are another aspect that makes Begin again a film to see. New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander was music supervisor and composed some of the music and songs. What is so great about Begin again (beside everything else) is its positiveness. Totally and unabashedly positive. I myself see nothing wrong with that.
And the Oscar went to… The only nomination this joyful film gets is in the Original song category. “Lost stars” was composed by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois (Yes, Danielle Brisebois formally from the sitcoms All in the family and Archie Bunker’s place). But the winner was the song “Glory” from Selma Music and Lyric by John Stephens (AKA John Legend) and Lonnie Lynn (AKA Common).