[Review] Begin Again: A Musical Journey of Healing and Hope

Begin Again is a 2013 American musical comedy-drama film directed and written by John Carney, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received an Oscar nomination for its original song.

When a broken-hearted singer meets a down-on-his-luck music producer in the city of dreams, can they find a new beginning together through their passion for music? Begin Again is a charming and uplifting film that celebrates the power of creativity and collaboration. Follow the journey of Gretta and Dan as they record an album in the streets of New York, rediscovering their love for life and music along the way. After being fired, formerly successful record label executive Dan goes on a drinking binge, leading him to a bar on the Lower East Side where he encounters Gretta. This is how their story begins. As they get acquainted after meeting each other, they unravel the knots in their hearts and gradually improve themselves. It’s not a grandiose tale or a spectacular saga, but it has the power to move people with its subtle details. The film has a smooth pace and sets the tone from the bar meeting, where the producer’s world comes alive on the screen. The challenging album production and the romantic strolls on the streets of New York also have a unique American charm in every scene. It’s not only the music that enhances each moment, but also the culture that enriches each shot. One of memorable scenes that stayed with me long after the credits rolled was when Gretta and Dan walked around the city with headphones on, listening to each other’s playlists. It was a simple but beautiful way of showing their connection and their musical tastes. The film portrays every character in a three-dimensional way, with their own personalities and quirks. The original soundtrack also gives this film a huge boost, as sung in Lost Stars: “Yesterday I saw a lion kiss a deer. Turn the page, Maybe we’ll find a brand new ending”. No matter how today is, as long as we stick to the goodness in our hearts, we will always find a new beginning.

To me, this film is suitable for anyone who lives in a foreign land, or anyone who feels lost in life. It can gently heal your soul and make you see life from a new perspective. And of course, for anyone who likes art films, Begin Again is a must-see masterpiece.

Kaiyu Chen

14 March, 2023


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