Originally released in 2006, Once was one of the rare small-budget, foreign-produced movies that managed to capture the imaginations of stateside audiences. The spare, spry romantic musical managed to garner much attention during the following awards season, ultimately earning an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Though Once director John Carney (Zonad) hasn't been idle in the years since his big hit, neither has he helmed anything remotely as successful as that title. Thus, it will be interesting if he can recapture that sense of lo-fi musical magic with Begin Again, a Hollywood-backed romantic comedy starring Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers: Age of Ultron) and Keira Knightley (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).
Begin Again's first trailer follows these headliners as a pair of New Yorkers whose lives are suddenly derailed, leaving them to sort out the pieces. Ruffalo plays Dan, an alcoholic record executive whose addiction gets him fired from his dream job; meanwhile, Knightley features as Greta, the ex-girlfriend of a rock star with musical talents of her own. When the pair meet at a local watering hole's open-microphone night, they set off on a risky plan to launch Greta's music career while resurrecting Dan's own life.
Given that it features a pair of down-and-out people making music against the backdrop of a world-renowned city, Begin Again will immediately draw comparisons to Once. Will Begin Again be as amenable to audiences with its bigger Hollywood budget and well-known stars?
After all, a good part of Once's charm was found in its scrappiness. Admittedly, Carney's latest feature looks to be a very different animal than the 2006 romantic drama, skewing more toward laughs than pathos. Nonetheless, the production may not connect as well with audiences due to its expanded scope and resources.
As proof of this larger scale, Begin Again features a cast full of music personalities, including CeeLo Green (Hotel Transylvania), Adam Levine (American Horror Story), and Mos Def (Dexter), as well as actors Hailee Steinfield (Ender's Game), Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips), and James Corden (Into the Woods).
Begin Again will groove into theaters on July 4th, 2014.