The opening scene of John Carney’s Begin Again features a room full of record execs discussing the possibility of putting artist audio commentaries on albums. It’s an idea that effectively encapsulates the film’s repeatedly evoked “It used to be about the music, maaaaaan” sensibility. Indeed, it often comes across like a disillusioned fan’s attempt to save the music industry via an uplifting musical-of-sorts.

While the film generally plays as earnestly as that sounds, it somehow never quite spilled over into insufferable coyness for me. Cynical viewers will find a lot to scoff at, but the film’s big-hearted inclusiveness cannot be denied.

The widely vocalised public animus towards Keira Knightley makes her seem like an underdog to me, which may be why I thought her warbling in this film was surprisingly good. Mark Ruffalo is on charming scruff autopilot, but never seems as drunk as his character should be, considering how often he is shown swigging back whiskey.

There’s some amusement to be found in Adam Levine’s hilariously straight-faced take on a John Mayer-esque singer/songwriter while CeeLo Green overacts wildly like he’s doing a walk-on in a music video. If you go in viewing this as a kind-of cinematic open mic night, you may just have a rockin’ time, maaaaaan.

‘Begin Again’ Movie Times