I was utterly delighted when I saw the trailer of this movie a while ago in the cinema. It was like experiencing the ‘Falling Slowly’ magic all over again. ‘Begin Again’ is another inspiring musical movie by John Carney. After 8 years since his first successful musical film – ‘Once’, Carney decided to ‘once again’ touch your souls through music. Good news is, it’s almost as good as the first one.
‘Begin Again’ is about two people finding their way in life through music. If you have previously watched ‘Once, you could definitely see the similarity in the two stories, which have both ingeniously presented the faith and pure emotions of musicians who truly understand each other. Comparing the two films, ‘Begin Again’ has a little bit more classy touch in it, thanks to the charming performance by Keira Knightley as a beautiful, talented English songwriter and singer
– Gretta. I absolutely adore this character: casual, smart, sensitive, and a little bit cynical and insecure. Though a bit lost and lonely, she was very honest and expressive. In the movie, Gretta’s talent on songwriting wasn’t recognized until she met the music producer Dan (played by Mark Ruffalo) who sees huge potential in her music. Together they created an extraordinary musical journey, against all odds.
Not only we can see the close-up process of a music production in the movie, Carney has also implicitly address the underlying issue in today’s music business: excessive marketing gimmicks, overly produced songs, and commercially inspired music. Record companies see only the surface of what music means to the audience. They often focus too heavily on promoting the appearance and packaging of a record, underrating music at its simplest form. When Dan and Gretta got turned down by label to record a demo, they asked themselves: “Why do we need a studio?” and “Why can’t we record music everywhere?”
Music is a way to express feelings, even the sound of city is a part of what we feel, so why do we so eagerly shield these out from our recordings? Has professional music production gone too far on packaging what we hear on our headphones? Why isn’t a clean guitar sound with a touch of breeze in its background desirable? Why do we need so much synth and bass to pump the music up, and a voice with auto tune? Why don’t major record companies make music that expresses life, instead of filling the market with loud music about sex, drugs and alcohol?
From the story, we can see the distance between Gretta and her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) was building up when Dave’s mainstream music with the label was a commercial success (I’m not sure the casting of Levine was for the irony or not, just saying). As a musician herself who also wrote some of Dave’s music, she felt that her music was buried under the heavy production mix, and she didn’t want to see her music going into that direction. It’s not surprising at all too that in the end, she decided to get rid of the label and sold her music online 90% cheaper. Marketing, studio production, and commercials? “Nope, this is not my music is selling for.” And this, is the kind of attitude that I believe Carney wants to see in musicians.
And think again, I barely see any commercials and posters of this movie too in where I live, perhaps a genuine story like this requires only an audience with a sincere heart.
If you haven’t watched this yet, please do. A 5/5 work for me (highest rate given in Movinfish.com so far!)