Even more than the lovely Irish film ONCE, the stage version of ONCE on Broadway (and on tour) celebrates the Spirit. Not just the human spirit but what Christians call THE HOLY SPIRIT. For both film and stage show revel in depicting joy in the creative process of music-making when the creators love, respect and reverence one another When I attended the Broadway show, I was taken aback with it’s almost mystical honesty. I found the experience akin to a Eucharistic celebration in the way it manifested all that we long for: belonging, solidarity and hope. The penultimate and culminating scenes of the current movie BEGIN AGAIN (now in movie theaters) impacted me in a similar way. Not surprisingly, BEGIN AGAIN has the same writer and director as the film ONCE: John Carney. Although it is not as perfectly crafted as ONCE (BEGIN AGAIN is loose and rambling in structure), the new film has many moments that are sweet, charming and just right. And yes, unlike ONCE, other scenes represent far too easily resolved tensions and succumb to cliche. (I.e., NOT a realistic representation of alcoholism). With that said, I recommend it to you particularly for its Eucharistic moments when the characters manifest HOPE struggling through the pain of broken relationships via their collaborative music-making. Like ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN explores the joy and comfort we feel expressing our deepest feelings through music as we strive to love with integrity. Here are some other reasons you may want to see this movie:
1. For the simple pleasure watching these appealing actors-at-work: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightly, relative newcomer James Corden (of THE HISTORY BOYS and soon to be seen as the Baker in the movie INTO THE WOODS premiering in December), Catherine Keener, and the extremely popular and talented singer/ musician Adam Levine (lead singer of Maroon 5 and judge on the TV show THE VOICE) who is making his film debut. True, he ‘s best when he sings and not quite so effective as an actor. Still, he makes for a solid screen presence amidst the seasoned screen stars. For her part, actress Keira Knightly has a lovely singing voice and performs her songs appealingly.
2. Really good soundtrack. I downloaded it.
3. R rating is misleading. Some foul language but no nudity or violence or evidence of casual sex. The subject matter is clearly about adult relationship and dysfunction. ONCE also received an R rating with the same profile. Fine as they are, these are not family films. Fine for high school level students with an adult to explore the themes and dysfunctions.
4. A lovely little escape film for all adults engaged in making music in any way, shape or form and those who enjoy watching music-in-the-making.
5. For reference, IMDB.com gives BEGIN AGAIN. A 7.8 rating compared to 2006 ONCE with an 8.0 favorable rating. ROTTEN TOMATOES posted an 83% / 86% critics / general audience positive rating.
Homilies and more film reviews forthcoming!