David and I recently got back from a trip to Australia and on the flight back I got to watch Begin Again. This is a movie starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, which, is part of the reason I had any interest in seeing it in the first place. The general idea is that Kiera Knightley plays Gretta who is a songwriter who travels to New York with her boyfriend who has just been signed to an all new record deal. Mark Ruffalo plays Dan a record executive of an independent label who is down on his luck. Gretta ends up left behind by her rock and roll boyfriend and essentially abandoned in the city. Dan ends up thrown out of his own record label, he is separated from his wife and family, and really at rock bottom. The turning point scene for both of the characters is when Gretta’s one friend in the city drags her to an open mic night in a bar where Dan happens to be in that same bar to try and forget his problems at the bottom of a glass. Then he hears Gretta play.
The beginning of the movie is very much about juxtaposing these two people’s lives and how they are both on a downward spiral. One of the differences is the fact that Dan still seems to have a glimmer of hope and Gretta is on the verge of giving up. Where this movie really lives is in the music. Gretta has songs that need to be sung and Dan has a vision for how they can be presented. (Potential spoilers for Begin Again after the jump)
The First Song
So early on in the movie we see Gretta playing at the bar and then later we see Dan drinking and listening at the bar. The two different perspectives these two have on the same experience creates a really interesting moment. Gretta is dejected and really just feeling like she is done with New York and with everything. When she plays she is unsure and it reflects in how the audience reacts to her. Then when we see Dan listening to her we hear the song how he hears it. As she starts to play he hears the build of other instruments around her and sees what the song could be versus what it is. It is this beautiful moment when you get to see inside the mind of someone who decides on music and how they can see the potential in something. The way that Dan connects with the song and what it could do makes you connect with him in a way you have not really up until now.
Needing to be Made
One of the interesting things about this movie is it is partly about seeing Dan’s passion to make good music is infection. Throughout the movie it almost feels like a compulsion that when he finds something that he believes in he has to make it something worthwhile. He tries to get others to see the vision, but when all your interested in is the money sometimes vision is not worth betting on. This makes Dan decide to produce the record himself and instead of recording in a studio they decide to record throughout the city. The excitement that Dan has over being able to record these songs in a variety of locations and how much he goes through in order to get them made truly is inspiring. A man who has hit rock bottom still striving and reaching for something better.
One of the better parts in the movie is that CeeLo Green is in it as one of the musicians that Dan helped to make it big. The great part is that no matter what has happened to Dan, CeeLo’s character still believes in him. He sees the person that Dan has been and knows that that person is still there. Seeing how much someone else believes in Dan makes you believe in him too.
At the heart of the movie is the relationships of these characters. Not only the relationship between Gretta and Dan, but each of their broken relationships. Gretta is still getting over the heartache of being abandoned by her rock star boyfriend Dave. Dan lost his family, lost his record label, and really just needs to find a purpose again. By working together Gretta and Dan help to heal each other. It is not about the glitz and glamour of being a star. It really is about the people that you get to create with and how those around you affect you. The great part is that any romance is not between Gretta and Dan, it is about how they help each other heal and grow into the people that the can be.
Begin Again originally just looked like a cute movie, but in the end it was so much better than I even originally thought. The music was such a great part of the movie and honestly I want to buy the soundtrack now. Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are amazing and just bring these characters to life. In the end the movie brings out the hope I think that we all have for something magical that can happen in every day life.