Avoid this film like E coli if your instinctive reaction to all things infectiously sweet and sincere is spontaneous toe curling. The director is John Carney, who made the scruffy-gorgeous musical Once for pennies on the streets of Dublin. Here he repeats the formula with proper money and stars. Keira Knightley is Gretta, an English songwriter in New York who’s just been dumped by her rock-star boyfriend (we know something’s up when he starts growing twattish facial hair). Gretta is singing a wrist-slitty break-up song at an open-mic night when she’s spotted by Dan, a washed-up record producer out on a bender (Mark Ruffalo: arrest that man, he’s too charming). Together they make an album using the sounds of New York as a backdrop.
Begin Again in no way has the rough-around-the-edges ring of truth of Once – or the brilliant songs. And Carney can’t meet a cliché without tippy-toeing very close to it. But what makes it special is that it’s not another romance about finding a man. It’s about finding your people, about being a bit lost in your twenties and not knowing who you are or what you want to be. And it’s got bucketfuls of charm.