Begin Again, film review: Keira Knightley is on song for John Carney's fairy tale of New York
(15) John Carney, 104 mins Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden, Adam Levine
Keira Knightley plays Greta, a Norah Jones-like singer-songwriter in John Carney's Begin Again, formerly known as Can a Song Save Your Life? It's a typically brave performance from an actress who is always prepared to try anything. Mark Ruffalo is Dan, a record-company exec whose life is in meltdown but who recognises Greta's potential after hearing her perform in a tiny New York club.
The film's attitude toward the music business is nothing if not contradictory. Carney, who enjoyed a huge hit with his low-budget, similarly themed Once, seems to be on the side of street musicians who write songs for the love of it. Greta's boyfriend (Adam Levine) is portrayed in a negative light for pursuing fame at the expense of artistic integrity.
Nonetheless, as viewers, we are always aware that this is a star-driven romantic comedy. The film suffers from its own relentless optimism. There's no darkness or sense of suffering here. Ruffalo is a brilliant character actor who, at times, plays Dan as if he's on leave from a John Cassavetes drama. Carney, though, blithely glides over Dan's alcoholism, faltering career and family trouble.
There's little desperation about Knightley's character, either. She's a well-spoken young English woman who can go back to "uni" if her adventures in the music business don't come off. With so little at stake, it is no surprise that the songs themselves, though perfectly capably performed by Knightley, are on the vapid side.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Madonna Rebel Heart: Pharrell Williams collaboration and 13 more songs leaked
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk