Starred Up (2013) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4) : He finally meets his match – his dad

starredup05 While it is a mix of familiar elements to be expected from its main subjects, “Starred Up” is a compelling mix to watch none the less. Mainly through its violent young antihero with issues, it transfers us into a harsh, brutal world behind prison walls, and then it strikes us through his constant clash with this cruel world which is always ready to punish its denizens with no mercy. Yes, this is indeed something we have encountered many times before, and I was naturally reminded of other similar films during my viewing, but the movie is a riveting prison drama pulsating with its gritty realistic style and, above all, a remarkable breakout performance worthy of the praises it has been gathering.

When we meet Eric Love(Jack O’Connell) for the first time, he has just arrived at a prison where he is going to serve out the rest of his sentence. The opening scene effectively sets the tone as calmly observing prison officers processing him step by step. After his transfer is registered, he is ordered to take off his clothes, and then the prison officers thoroughly examine his body for a while. New prison clothes are given to him after that, and then we see him being passed through several metal safety doors to arrive in his cell.

He looks quite young compared to other prisoners, but we learn later that he was sent from the institution for juvenile offenders to this place due to his extremely violent behaviors(the title of the movie is a British term for describing the early transfer of a criminal from a young offender institution to an adult prison). He certainly looks anxious when he is finally left alone in his cell, but this is a tough lad with experiences, and he soon prepares himself up to face his new harsh environment; he makes a sharp weapon using a toothbrush and a metal piece and then finds a good place to hide it, and he also does some push-ups with his fists.

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He quickly becomes a new walking trouble in the prison mainly thanks to his hair-trigger temper and anti-social attitude. It is just a small misbehavior around meal time at first, but then he gets himself into a serious trouble when he happens to nearly kill an innocent inmate. He immediately regrets about that, but he responds with more sound and fury when prison officers are going to seize him and then punish him for that.

Jack O’Connell, a young British actor whom we will see again in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming movie “Unbroken”, is simply electrifying in his impressive physical performance. O’Connell does not say much during the aforementioned opening scene, but his face and gestures are more than enough to fully establish his character, and then he galvanizes several violent moments with the full swagger reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”(1971) and Tom Hardy in “Bronson”(2008). When Eric goes ballistic in his cell as a group of heavily equipped prison officers are about to suppress him, he is determined to resist against them by any means necessary even though he has no chance of winning, and we cannot help but feel his volcanic fury as watching his body literally vibrating with it. Pouring oil on his body just for making the prison officers’ job difficult is merely the first step for him – he is even willing to bite off a certain body part of some very unlucky prison officer at one point.

And we also gradually come to see a damaged kid behind these extreme behaviors of his. Jonathan Asser’s screenplay wisely avoids the pitfalls of explaining more than necessary(the screenplay was inspired by Asser’s own experience as a voluntary therapist at HM Prison Wandsworth), and it slowly lets us gather several pieces of information about Eric’s history of childhood abuse and trauma for ourselves as listening to Eric’s casual remarks on his past(but it will be sometimes difficult for some of you to understand the dialogues in the film because of accents and slangs).

starredup06At least, he gets some help from two different characters – for now. One is a group therapist named Oliver(Rupert Friend), and he manages to persuade Deputy Governor Hayes(Sam Spruell) that he can help Eric dealing with his temper problem, but his group session with Eric and other inmates is always fraught with the potentials of sudden physical clash, while all Oliver can do for them is continuing his session as much as he can with necessary moderation. Friend, O’Connell, and the other actors are very convincing in their uneasy sessions scenes which are equivalent of emotional minefield; any thoughtless word can be led to a violent outburst at any point, and that usually means another frustrating end of session for all of them.

The other one is Nevile(Ben Mendelsohn), Eric’s father who has already been in the prison for quite a long time. Neville tries to help and protect his son in his own way while attempting to reconnect with him, but it does not go as well as he initially thought. He may be a little more mild-tempered than he was, but Neville begins to show his old hot temper while trying to make Eric a little more obedient to the system which will hold them for many years to come, and we can clearly see the inheritance of violence through his tough conflict with Eric. Mendelsohn, who was memorable as one of the amoral criminal characters in “Animal Kingdom”(2010), gives another exceptional performance which supports O’Connell well along with Friend’s equally good performance, and the dynamic relationship between their characters works a fascinating center of the movie.

Wholly focusing on his characters and their closed world, the director David Mackenzie imbues his film with that confined ambience of prison. The cinematographer Michael McDonough is rarely static while never losing the sense of confinement within its widescreen, and his camera smoothly moves along with characters during a couple of crucial scenes in the film for generating considerable amount of verisimilitude.

I must point out that the third act of the movie is a little weak in comparison because of its rather contrived climax, but that part mostly works as a payoff for what has been established during the rest of the story, and the movie remains to be very satisfying thanks to its direction and performances on the whole. It does not break any new ground in its territory, but it is surely a well-made work with one hell of performance which introduces us another interesting actor to watch.

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Ida (2013) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4) : A nun’s journey

ida01 Polish film “Ida” looks so simple and concise that describing its plot will not be enough to explain why it is one of the most memorable experiences of this year. I initially observed the movie with admiration toward its impressive technical aspects, and then I appreciated more how its distinctive approach actually supports and enhances its haunting story about a young woman who suddenly has to deal with the past she never knew before.

In the beginning, we slowly gather the background information as watching a young novice nun named Anna(Agata Trzebuchowska) and the daily scenes at her convent. It is 1962 in Poland, and the country has been under the communist rule for more than 10 years, but the world inside the convent does not seem to be affected much by this social/political change. The opening scene shows Anna and other novice nuns doing a polishing job on a Christ statue they are going to fix on the ground later, and then we see them going through daily routines with others in the solemn environment of the convent which feels like a throwback to the medieval time.

While preparing for taking vows with other young nuns, Anna comes to learn a surprise fact about her family from Mother Superior. As an orphan who has been raised in the convent since she was very young, she thought she did not have any close family member(she only knew that her parents died a long time ago), but now Mother Superior informs her that Anna actually has an aunt, and she advises Anna that she should visit her aunt before taking vows, although her aunt has never attempted to meet Anna during all those years even though she knows where Anna has been.

ida2 Though she is not very cordial to Anna when she sees her niece at the door of her apartment, Wanda(Agata Kulesza), who was once a prominent prosecutor for her communist government but now becomes stuck in the position of a local judge presiding over trivial cases while going through the tarnished lifestyle of a high-functioning alcoholic, tells her niece a couple of important things she ought to know; Anna is Jewish, and her real name was Ida(it is pronounced as “Ee-da”, not “Aye-da”, by the way). Her parents were killed during the World War II, and even Wanda does not know where they were buried, let alone what really happened to them during the war.

And that is the start of their journey into the past. They go to the town where Anna’s parents lived. They meet the current owner of the farm which once belonged to Anna’s family. They try to search for a man who may give the information about how Anna’ parents were killed and buried. At one point, they come upon a hitchhiking tenor saxophonist(Dawid Ogrodnik) on the road, and they meet this young guy again while they are staying at the hotel where he performs jazz music with his fellow musicians, which manages to brighten up the mood a bit among the hotel guests. Anna is mostly quiet and wordless, but it looks like his presence touches something inside her, like her hidden past shakes her idea of who she is.

Maintaining its slow, contemplative pace, the movie frequently observes its characters from the distance, and the stark but stunningly gorgeous black and white cinematography by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal further emphasizes the barren, oppressive mood surrounding them through its precise, thoughtful scene composition. The characters are usually placed in the lower part of the screen during many notable shots in the film, and they seldom occupy the center of the composition even during close-up shots. Our eyes become more aware of the empty space above their heads, and this curious vertical composition amplifies the somber feeling of oppression in the screen of 1:33 ratio, which sometimes makes the characters look like inconsequential prisoners of their gray world.

ida04And their world still has its past sleeping below its surface, as implied through the minor characters who are not so willing to talk about their time during the war. Although it does not look directly at that atrocious past behind its story, the movie gradually lets us see it through its main characters’ journey, and it firmly keeps its restrained attitude even when they finally arrive at the emotional end of their journey. The camera merely observes them and a certain character during one important scene in the middle of some forest, but there is a quiet but palpable sense of sorrow and guilt on the screen, and we come to reflect on how people can be capable of anything during war.

The movie depends a lot on the solid performances by its two lead actresses, and Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska complement each other well as two people who cannot possibly be more different from each other despite their family tie. Trzebuchowska, a non-professional performer who was literally cast by chance, brings unadulterated qualities to her reserved but effective performance. There are some elusive moments which make us wonder about what is going on inside her character, but Trzebuchowska’s engaging natural presence constantly holds our attention as the center of the story, and we come to understand more about Anna’s circumstance even when she does not reveal a lot to us in her usual docile appearance.

On the opposite, Kulesza, a veteran Polish actress with considerable acting career, makes a nice contrast to her co-actress Trzebuchowska. We later comes to learn that there is a motive behind Wanda’s sudden decision to help finding the burial site of her niece’s parents, and Kulesza’s nuanced acting subtly reveals the complex sides of her character who eventually admits to herself that she still has a heart to feel more pain behind her jaded cynicism hardened by her own difficult, complicated past. She was a victim of the war, but then she was also a perpetrator who drove a number of people to death during the Stalinist purge in the 1950s, and there is a brief moment when she bitterly tells her niece about the time when she was nicknamed “Red Wanda”.

ida03 The movie is directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, who has established his directing career outside his country through several films including “Last Resort”(2000) and “My Summer of Love”(2004). I only watched his previous film “The Woman in the Fifth”(2011), but that was enough for me to see that he is a talented director to watch; I felt baffled and confused at times while watching that mystery film, but I was also intrigued by its odd mood and the elusive undercurrent behind it, and it was sort of a satisfying experience despite its ambiguous ending which baffled me again.

“Ida”, which is recently selected as Poland’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, is a movie which is easier to admire than like, but its austere presentation of the Polish society in the 1960s works as an interesting look into the past, and you may notice an ironic parallel between its heroine and her society, in which communism and religion somehow co-exist side by side among its people just like her Jewish heritage and Catholic upbringing inside her. The movie is a stunning achievement worthy of more attention, and it will be quite a rewarding experience if you are ready to immerse yourself into it.

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Cats and kittens (08/22/14)

 The day was comfortable for them to rest outside…

 

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The Normal Heart (2014) ☆☆☆1/2 (3.5/4): Their fight against a plague – and the system

thenormalheart01 HBO TV movie “The Normal Heart” is frequently blatant in its melodramatic approach, but there is a big heart palpitating with emotional truths inside its story, and we cannot ignore what it wants to tell us. We can clearly see how it is going to pull the strings for its dramatic effects, but there is also sincerity and honesty behind its manipulation, and it ultimately becomes more resonating than expected while looking at anger, frustration, fear, pain, and sadness from its characters struggling with their dark, difficult time.

It is 1981, and everything looks fine and beautiful to Ned Weeks(Mark Ruffalo) and his fellow gay friends. Riding on the sex culture revolution during that time, they can be more opened about their sexuality than before, and we see these guys and other gays having a big fun with their beach meeting where nearly everyone is ready to enjoy their hedonistic freedom. While there is a big, exciting dance time during which everyone is flirting with each other, we also get a brief moment of group sex in a nearby forest, and even Ned, who is relatively shy and introverted compared to his friends, cannot say no to this liberating mood in the end.

But a very bad news is approaching to them as they enjoy their days of heaven. Craig(Jonathan Groff), a current lover of Bruce Niles(Taylor Kitsch), suddenly collapses on the ground on one day, and he becomes sicker day by day. Ned comes across a New York Times article on the unprecedented cancer cases observed from 41 gay patients, and that leads him to Dr. Emma Brookner(Julia Roberts), one of the first doctors who begin to notice a certain unknown disease being spread around her gay patients.

thenormalheart03 We all know that this is the first grim chapter of the AIDS epidemic in US during the 1980s, and the movie directly stares at the horror of this disease with no pretension. We see those skin lesions and the other medical problems resulted from the destruction of immune system due to HIV virus infection, and that is just the start of long, painful death. Close friends and acquaintances around Ned and Bruce become AIDS patients one by one as the time goes by, and they feel scared and helpless in front of this new disease while not knowing how to fight against it for their survival.

Ned, Bruce, and their friends including Tommy Boatwright(Jim Parsons) and Mickey Marcus(Joe Mantello) set up their community organization to prevent the spread of AIDS, but their organization, Gay Men’s Health Crisis(GMHC), is not as successful as they want, and the government officials are not willing to help them mainly because of their prejudice and ignorance. As AIDS is labelled as a gay-related disease with no particular understanding of its cause or its infection route, the prejudice against gay people becomes more intensified as a result, and there is a particularly heartbreaking moment when a young dying AIDS patient is denied of his rights even after his tragic death.

While they stick together at first for their common goal, Ned frequently clashes with his colleagues on how they should persuade others to help them. Ned thinks they should use more direct and aggressive tactics for their crisis getting recognized in public, but Bruce and others prefer more tactful ways of approaching to the people who can help studying and preventing AIDS. Ned also thinks they should be more opened about their sexuality, but not many of his friends are willing to come out of their closet, mainly because they are afraid of losing their social positions.

thenormalheart05 This inner conflict causes lots of discords between Ned and others in GMHC as everyone is more frustrated with the slow response from the US government. Dr. Brookner tries to get the grant for her research on AIDS from the National Institutes of Health, but her proposal is unfairly rejected, and she cannot help but explode with anger and frustration against her system at one point. As powerfully shown in Oscar-nominated documentary film “How to Survive a Plague”(2012), it took a lot more time for the AIDS activists during that time to get better chances of survival while fighting against prejudice and incompetence, and, as watching the epilogue of “The Normal Heart”, I was reminded again of how ignorantly the Reagan administration mishandled the AIDS epidemic which took away so many precious lives at its height.

The director Ryan Murphy, the co-creator of TV series “Glee” and “American Horror Story”, sometimes tries a little too hard to energize the story(I find the handheld camera approach in several scenes a bit distracting, for example), but he draws a number of strong performances from the cast, which are the emotional anchor for us to hold onto the episodic narrative of his movie. The adapted screenplay by Larry Kramer, which is based on Kramer’s own acclaimed stage play, feels theatrical especially when the characters pour out their feelings and thoughts on the screen, but these moments ring true thanks to Kramer’s good writing, and the actors elevate them into many powerful scenes to behold.

thenormalheart02  While Mark Ruffalo, who will probably win an Emmy for this movie, deftly swings between righteous anger and gentle sensitivity without any single misstep in his superb performance, the supporting performers surrounding him have each own moments to shine. While Julia Roberts gets another nice chance to utilize her talent after her recent Oscar-nominated turn in “August: Osage County”(2013), Alfred Molina has a couple of wonderful scenes as Ned’s lawyer brother who has his own prejudice to overcome despite his deep affection toward his little brother. He does care about Ned, but he does not think his brother is ‘normal’, and Molina and Ruffalo effectively convey to us the complex relationship between them during their scenes. Although they look relatively less confident, Taylor Kitsch and Jim Parsons are adequately cast in their respective roles, and Joe Mantello has a showstopper moment when his character finally reaches to the breaking point and then explodes into a frantic monologue. In the case of Matt Bomer, who lost 40 pounds(18-kg) for some of his scenes, he is simply devastating as Ned’s young partner, and he and Ruffalo are superlative in their harrowing and touching portrayal of two lovers painfully going through their losing battle against the disease which is going to separate them apart sooner or later.

Like “Longtime Companion”(1989) and “Dallas Buyers Club”(2013), “The Normal Heart” tells us a lot about that gloomy era when things looked quite hopeless to many people. Things are better now as AIDS becomes a treatable disease and several civil rights of sexual minorities are legally recognized, but I think we need to be reminded of how difficult it was for them to begin that progress, and the movie did its job with considerable emotional effects to linger on us.

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Magic in the Moonlight (2014) ☆☆☆(3/4) : She does something to him~

magininthemoonlight01 “Magic in the Moonlight” is as lightweight as you can expect from a minor Woody Allen film. Although it is not as impressive as “Midnight in Paris”(2011), it is a nice fluffy diversion from his previous work “Blue Jasmine”(2013), and its pleasant mood and performances compensate for its rather thin story which becomes less interesting especially during its second half.

It is 1928 in London, and the opening scene shows the magic show of renowned Chinese illusionist Wei Ling Soo, who is actually a British guy named Stanley Crawford(Colin Firth). As a lifelong skeptic who does not believe in ghosts and afterlife, Stanley has debunked a number of spiritualists, and now it seems he finally comes to face someone who may be more than a match for him. His colleague illusionist Howard Burkan(Simon McBurney) met a young medium who has been impressing a rich American family with her psychic ability, and Stanley becomes intrigued when Burkan confides to him that he could not find any evidence to debunk her.

After cancelling his trip to the Galapagos Islands with his fiancée, Stanley immediately goes down to Côte d’Azur in France with Howard, and he is introduced to Sophie(Emma Stone) and that rich American family in question. While Grace(Jacki Weaver) believes that Sophie really can communicate with her deceased husband, her daughter Croline(Erica Leerhsen) and her son-in-law George(Jeremy Shamos) think Sophie is a fraud, and they are naturally worried about Brice(Hamish Shamos), Grace’s only son who is apparently smitten with Sophie and is probably going to marry her sooner or later.

magininthemoonlight04 After meeting Sophie and her business-minded mother(Marcia Gay Harden), Stanley becomes more suspicious about her, but it looks quite possible that Sophie really has psychic ability as she claims. She senses Stanley’s disguise right from their first encounter(he is introduced as an importer friend of Howard), and then she soon sees through the motive behind his visit. During her séance, Stanley witnesses a seemingly improbable happening right in front of his eyes, and then he finds his skeptical view being further shaken by another happening at the house of his aunt Vanessa(Eileen Atkins).

The movie could be more fun if it toyed more with this interesting conflict between belief and skepticism, but it takes a mellower route instead as Stanley quickly changes his adamant view on spiritualism and then finds himself drawn to Sophie more than ever in spite of the fact that she stands for everything he did not believe in at all. As Sophie points out correctly, he and his fiancée look like a good, rational match, and the same thing can be said about Sophie and Brice, but Stanley’s heart does not feel so – and neither does Sophie’s heart, perhaps.

This is a familiar trouble we already observed from many other characters in Allen’s works, and the movie strolls lightly with its two contrasting main characters while immersing itself into the warm, sunny atmosphere of the south region of France. The cinematographer Darius Khondji, who previously collaborated with Allen in “Midnight in Paris” and “To Rome with Love”(2012), fills the day scenes in the film with the soft, bright light of summer days while nicely capturing gorgeous locations on the screen, and that carefree mood of the 1920s is recreated well through handsome production design and costumes while several well-known period songs such as Cole Porter’s “You Do Something to Me” are effectively used in the soundtrack. As watching many dancing guests and a big jazzy orchestra band during one party scene in the film, you may expect to encounter F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, who were incidentally two of the significant supporting characters in “Midnight in Paris.”

magininthemoonlight05 As the lead performers, Colin Firth and Emma Stone play off each other well during their scenes. Firth has a fun with his character’s lofty and acerbic aspects during the first half of the film, and Stone, who is currently working with Allen in his next film, gives a breezy performance fueled by her own charming screen presence. There is a lovely scene in which their characters happen to spend some time together at an observatory during one evening, and it does not take much time for us to sense what is going on between them.

The other actors surrounding Firth and Stone do not have lots of things to do in comparison, and that is another weak aspect of the film. Hamish Linklater looks goofier whenever he appears with his ukulele, and it is a bit disappointing to see talented actresses like Jacki Weaver and Marcia Gay Harden playing thankless roles in the film – but they were probably glad to get a chance to work with Allen at least. In the case of Eileen Atkins, she has juicier moments as Stanley’s wise aunt, and she is especially good when Vanessa has a private conversation with her nephew on the current matter of his heart; she does not say what he should do, but she subtly lets him make a choice while maintaining the attitude of your average prim British lady.

I have some reservation on “Magic in the Moonlight” because of its several flaws including its weak ending which is less successful than intended, but I also found it likable enough to recommend it to you despite that. Sure, maybe I am a little too kind to this minor work from a director who made great films such as “Annie Hall”(1977) and “Manhattan”(1979), but I can assure you that you can enjoy this movie if you have been generous with his recent minor works like me(Yes, I was even entertained by “Scoop”(2006) – but I was bored by “Cassandra’s Dream”(2007)). Now approaching to 80, Woody Allen has already moved onto his next project as usual, and I’m willing to go along with that after this small fun.

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Cats on a late summer day(08/18/14)

It became a little cooler with rain, so they were all out there…

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Begin Again (2013) ☆☆☆(3/4) : Starting over with music

beginagain01 Around its beginning, “Begin Again” has a key moment which shows us how some songs can mean a lot to us at the right time and the right place in our life. It is just a simple song performed with a bit of reluctance, but its music and lyrics particularly come close to one guy who happens to be there. He instinctively recognizes the potential in her music as a sudden inspiration sparks in him, and that is the start of their accidental relationship which eventually helps them starting over from their respective problematic lives.

The guy in question is Dan(Mark Ruffalo), a seasoned music producer who was once successful but is now nearly close to hitting the bottom in both his private and professional life. While living alone in his small, crummy apartment in New York after his recent divorce from his wife Miriam(Catherine Keener), he frequently drinks without much money, and he is not exactly in good appearance when he is supposed to spend a day with his teenager daughter Violet(Hailee Steinfeld). In the record company he founded with his partner Saul(Yasiin Bey, who is also known as Mos Def), he does not show much interest to business matters while not having any notable success in discovering new talents to watch, and Saul is not so pleased about his friend/partner who has merely been occupying a space in their company.

Dan is eventually fired by his friend, and, drunken and dispirited as usual, he goes into a bar where Gretta(Keira Knightley) comes to perform one of her songs. The reaction of the audiences at the bar is mild on the whole, but her song resonates with Dan’s melancholic feelings, and his mind suddenly flies with the bright ideas on how her music can be presented more effectively. The movie shows his imaginary arrangement of her song as he adds several instruments one by one in his mind, and we can see from Dan’s face that his dormant passion on music is being finally awakened by Gretta’s music.

beginagain05 Meanwhile, we also see how things were led up to that crucial moment from Gretta’s viewpoint. When she came from England to New York with her successful musician boyfriend Dave(Adam Levine), everything looked fine at first, but then she learned about Dave’s infidelity through his latest song which was composed during his recording session in L.A. Exasperated and broken-hearted, she instantly left his place and moved to a far smaller place belonging to her old friend Steve(James Corden), a jolly, chubby musician who made Gretta perform at the very bar Dan went into.

After her performance, Dan approaches to her and introduces himself as someone who can help her music career. Gretta accepts his offer, and they soon work together on her promotional album. They do not have enough money or resource, but their work process goes smoothly mainly thanks to Dan’s resourcefulness fueled by his enthusiasm on Gretta’s music. Besides Steve, who gladly takes the position of recording engineer with his secondhand equipments, Dan manages to recruit several interested performers, and he also decides to do outdoor recording instead of usual studio recording for not only saving their budget and but also adding a raw touch of style to their recording.

The director/writer John Carney, who previously made a small precious music drama called “Once”(2006), makes the music scenes in his film look lively and vibrant enough to amuse and entertain us. Dan, Gretta, and the other performers in the movie are really having a fun with creating something good, and Dan does whatever he can do for providing his musicians with suitable recording locations. Considering their recording conditions, I have some doubt about the actual sound quality of their final product, but the songs in the movie mostly sound good on the soundtrack, and their guerilla performances around New York are accompanied with a number of small funny moments which drew some chuckles from the audiences around me during the screening.

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 And some of these songs actually have dramatic purposes while not just being nice songs to be included in the soundtrack album. There is a short but poignant scene where Gretta performs her latest song as her personal message to Dave, and the song clearly tells us(and Dave) how much she felt hurt because of him. Regretting his fault, Dave comes to want the second chance from Gretta, but we also sense a certain possibility between Dan and Gretta, who become a little closer to each other while occasionally spending their time together as friends and partners.

Although looking conventional in its familiar plot, the movie does not overplay the emotions slowly generated between Dan and Gretta, and it leisurely rolls along with them as observing the progress of their relationship with gentle sensitivity. Keira Knightley, who also performed the songs in the movie, has a low-key chemistry with her co-actor Mark Ruffalo, and they are surrounded by the good supporting works by Catherine Keener, Hailee Steinfeld, Yasiin Bey, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and James Corden, whose amiable performance quickly earns our affection right from his first scene.

When I watched “Begin Again” during last evening, I came into the screening room with no big expectation, and then I found myself enjoying it with smiles and laughs like the other audiences in the screening room. The movie looks a lot more generic compared to that raw charm of “Once”, and I must confess that not many of its songs stuck to my mind after it was over, but I will not deny that it felt to me like a relaxing respite from the summer blockbuster season of this year. This is not exactly a fresh music drama, but it works well enough to be an entertaining one at least.

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