Dan 係一個過氣唱片公司高層，因為老婆Miriam出軌而失婚，事業亦走下坡。在夜店買醉之時遇上與歌星男友Dave鬧翻、被朋友慫恿下上台唱歌的唱作人Gretta 。Dan被Gretta的才華吸引，進而遊說為她出唱片。事情發展下去，慢慢影響兩人在人生路上的方向。
選角方面，起用近期以『變形俠醫』『復仇者聯盟』電影大收的麥克雷法路飾演落泊星探，頗為入格。姫拉麗莉的Gretta由最初感情失敗到最後堅強獨立，一幕比一幕迷人。飾演的Maroon V主音亞當列維做返自己已經可以，發揮尚算自然。在『宇宙生還戰』中飾演主角胞姊的希莉施丹菲今次擔任情竇初開的主角女兒，亦是隨劇情推進而越見可人，更客串在其中一首歌中bass solo一番。另外，在『唱Opera的保羅』擔正的占士高登（飾演Gretta的好友）、飾演Miriam的嘉芙蓮堅娜，演出都恰如其分。
作為一齣音樂電影，Begin Again的音樂自然重要，亦頗有驚喜。全片音樂以人物分別，Gretta的歌充滿singer/songwriter的清新、歌詞發自人物內心。Dave的歌曲則流行曲味濃厚，反映他投向大眾皃走向，與Gretta風格大相逕庭。姫拉麗莉初次主唱，聲底明顯不足，但表現出奇地好，補足有餘。雖然只有四首歌，但已足夠令我離場後即上iTunes Store購買原聲大碟。（謎之聲：説好了的專輯呢？？我：你肯補足其他歌，一定買！）個人心水：Like A Fool （歌詞直接到point，旋律簡單上腦），Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home屋頂版（有Dan同Violet父女對jam）。
Everyone had priorities in their path down the stream of life. And people get together for various reasons. Different priorities can cause friction between people; how to resolve the differences? From my view, Begin Again is a pleasant yet poignant way in dealing with the messy reality of differing priorities.How to make a record
How to make an album
Dan (Mark Ruffalo) was a struggling record company executive that had his glory. Divorced and hardly productive, he walked in to a bar for a couple of drinks, where he saw a reluctant Gretta (Keira Knightley) performing on stage, singing a lonely song about hopeless people contemplating life. Somehow Dan saw talent in Gretta, strike up a conversation with her, and offered to produce an album with her music and the sounds of New York. Things went for an unexpected turn, which change both of their lives.
Director John Carney took up again a theme about music lovers, after his award-winning film “Once”. I found “Once” being more of “separate lives”. “Begin Again” was different, more about people stick together and tried to make compromises.
The plot was straight forward, and the director didn’t deviate from his way of handling love affairs of main characters (you would know after watching “Once”). As the main theme is Gretta’s record, a lot of scenes are dealing with the actual recording, which they do on the streets and parks of New York, and beautifully filmed. The interaction between Dan and his family, as well as Gretta with Dave, were decently presented, crossover through Gretta as the centerpiece, and provide contrast in terms of how the characters deal with betrayal and different priorities. And having Gretta being an independent singer/songwriter, the plot also took a jab at the recording industry, and Dan went along with the album project being independent.
Casting was wonderful. Ruffalo as the depressed and out of work A&R man was spot on, while Knightley was becoming more and more attractive as the story progresses, and she shined brilliantly all the way the end. Levine got the rock star look just right, as he was just being himself. Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game) played well and adorable as Dan’s daughter, Violet, who yearned for her old man’s attention while they lead different lives. James Corden (lead actor in this year’s “One Chance”) as Gretta’s best friend, as well as Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote) as Dan’s ex-wife, were also cast well.
And there’s the music. They were well written and produced by seasoned musicians, while the director and Glen Hansard (musician and lead actor of “Once”) pitched in for two songs. The lyrics were particularly good, with very strong emotion and storytelling elements, reflected the singer/songwriter genre that was dominant in the plot. Surprisingly, even though Knightley proclaimed her almost total lack of music training, her singing was pretty good. I found myself picking up the soundtrack from iTunes immediately after the end, and the playlist is now a regular on my phone, the music is that good. My favorite: “Like a Fool”, for the frankness in the lyrics, and “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home”, the roof top version, for the jam by Dan and Violet. It might sound greedy, but if we can get the whole album produced, with the songs in the movie plus some more, I would not doubt snap it up the moment it were released!
As a music lover, I recommend this delightful, elegant movie to you, whether you like catchy music or not.