Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: 'Begin Again' sparkles sometimes but tries too hard


  
Rating: R (for language)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener
Director and writer: 
John Carney 
Running time: 1 hour, 
41 minutes
   
Writer-director John Carney replays his greatest hit with "Begin Again," a semi-successful attempt to re-create the magic of the Oscar-winning musical "Once," only this time in New York and with a big-name cast.
Get past the wildly improbable "music biz" moments and impromptu performances that feel anything but impromptu, and this all-star cast and several utterly charming scenes give it a sparkle that overcomes the manufactured/trying-too-hard feel of it.

Keira Knightley is a British singer-songwriter summoned, reluctantly, on stage by a busker-pal who is performing in an intimate, down-market bar in Manhattan. Mark Ruffalo plays the only guy paying attention, standing, staring, transfixed by her performance.

A flashback takes us through the bad day Dan Mulligan's had, leading to that moment. He's a drunken has-been of a music "A & R Man," an "artists and repertoire" guru who had the record label he started snatched away from him by his partner (Mos Def).