Begin Again ★★★★
After his world-beating, low-budget Irish busking romance Once, which won the best song Oscar, writer/director John Carney took a risk relocating the magic from Dublin to New York for another song-driven relationship drama with one foot in the biz. It still charms, as Mark Ruffalo’s ruffled has-been A&R man invests everything in the talents of Keira Knightley’s English singer/songwriter, whose more successful ex (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) commercialises a love song she once wrote for him, much to her chagrin. Knightley is not a natural songbird and Levine is no actor, but both give Carney naturalistic turns and the result is sweet and – considering its rock ’n’ roll setting – chaste. It’s an irresistible hymn to Greenwich Village, too. We’ll gloss over the unchivalrous comments Carney later made about Knightley’s acting.
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