As if I couldn’t fall in love with Keira Knightley any more, she is starring in the upcoming music film Begin Again written by John Carney (Once) alongside pop musician Adam Levine who play two college sweethearts and songwriter partners taking the New York music scene by storm.
Seven years since Irish-musician-turned-filmmaker Carney made Once–a small film turned phenomenon about a street musician trying to record music–Carney is making a return to musical film. Though, as music films tend to focus their dialogue on connecting the songs with the narrative throughout, this “stealth musical” works the other way around. Rather than writing music as part of the dialogue, this music arises organically from the narrative itself to connect and develop characters.
For any intensive music-lover obsessed with studying the lives of musicians, recording artists and industry professionals, Begin Again is a movie that I am sure any passionate soul for music has been starving to see. It’s been some time since modern cinema has last seen a film that genuinely captures the heart and soul of a musician, and I feel this one might just bring that back.
In an interview with Metro, writer-director Carney says: “If you were 16 and someone said, ‘You want a song of yours in ‘Dexter’ or some new TV show?’ — I would have done it for free … But we also have thousands of actors on stage breaking their balls every night for very small amounts of money. It seems music is going in that direction.”
This film seems to capture the industry today in an entirely raw and genuine way.
As many musicians feel their work is being taken advantage of or are assumed to write for free, many have difficulties making ends meet. And, rather than portraying an A&R guy as a stereotypical greedy monster in his film, Carney explores the humane spirit of these industry professionals, finding that the business is not only a reason to pay for their living, but their reason to live.
“When you see an A&R man dragging around their band and showing them off and having them play everywhere, you can see someone who’s like discovered an island,” Carney says. “They want to put their flag on it. It made me quite sad and sorry for those guys to think that excitement of going to a club and hearing a band was changing so much — that their jobs are in jeopardy.”
The changing music scene, though, is coupled with individuals who genuinely love what they do, even if it’s not enough to make ends meet.
Though it features an uncomfortable Knightley performing and playing a song on the guitar with everyday musician Levine testing his acting chops, Carney says that it’s “nice to mix it up a little bit.”
Released in limited theaters this Friday and everywhere July 2, Begin Again, as from their website, is a said “soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together.” As they find their way through music, hardship and chance encounters, I couldn’t be any more excited for this film to come out, for I feel this will particularly resonate with everything that matters to my life.