Once the head of the hippest record label in New York, Dan (Ruffalo) hasn't had a hit in years, thanks to his refusal to give in to the superficial trappings of today's music scene. After a row with his business partner (Bey), Dan goes on a drunken bender, ending up at an open mic night, where he hears a performance by English singer-songwriter Greta (Knightley). While the rest of the bar ignore her, Dan's ear for talent kicks in and he approaches her about cutting a record. Problem is, Greta plans to leave New York, having gone through a rough breakup with fellow musician Dave (Levine), who has found chart success with an album of songs co-penned with Greta.
The movie opens with Greta reluctantly taking to an open mic stage at the behest of fellow ex-pat singer Steve (Corden). The crowd appear disinterested, and Greta exits the stage in low spirits. Later we see the scene repeated, but this time from the drunken perspective of Dan. With his record producer's ear, he imagines a full production complementing Greta's vocals and acoustic strumming. We see the instruments on stage begin to perform of their own accord, as though the invisible man and his friends were indulging in a jam session. While the other patrons merely see a girl with her guitar, Dan sees her unfulfilled potential. It's a moving moment that captures the subjective emotional rush a piece of music can have on a listener.
How much you appreciate music will likely be the deciding factor when it comes to your enjoyment of Begin Again, as it's a romantic drama whose protagonists are in love, not with each other, but with the music they make together.
Read the full review by Eric Hillis at The Movie Waffler