Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Drew McWeeny
    May 31, 2014
    100
    John Carney, who wrote and directed "Once," has made another great film that focuses on songwriters and the way their lives influence their work.
  2. Reviewed by: Alonso Duralde
    Jun 26, 2014
    88
    Begin Again is as uncynical and unironic a film as I've seen in a while, which will no doubt be a turn-off to many. But like a catchy summer jam, it doesn't need to apologize for being exactly what it is, nor do its fans have to feel guilty for getting it stuck in their heads.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jul 11, 2014
    80
    The sum total is a film with great music, a great story and a great vibe in general -- not to mention those Carney-crafted moments, built around joy, possibility and self-transformation. In other words: Carney has given us another pearl.
  4. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Jul 8, 2014
    80
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Jun 23, 2014
    80
    Begin Again is a joyous movie about the good things in life: love, family, relationships, New York, creativity and music. And Knightley and Ruffalo make for one of the most unusual engaging couples of the year.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Sep 14, 2013
    80
    A film that lays emotions on the line and then drives them home with music.
  7. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 14, 2013
    80
    The film’s quiet pleasures creep up on you.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 2, 2014
    75
    Doggedly indie but unpretentious, Begin Again is one of the best movies I’ve seen about the music industry and the ways it changes people whose paths diverge.
  9. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 2, 2014
    75
    The music is hit-and-miss, and the movie sinks into as many cliches as it avoids. But the characters are appealing, and the storytelling is just unconventional enough to keep an audience guessing.
  10. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jul 2, 2014
    75
    Begin Again manages to be romantic and cynical about the music industry, which Carney touches on but never allows to take center stage.
  11. Reviewed by: Lon Grahnke
    Jul 2, 2014
    75
    When the songs work well, as a few of them do, much can be forgiven.
  12. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Jul 1, 2014
    75
    The problem is the song. It was gone as soon as it ended, a forgettable piece of soft-pop that was never going to be a hit, whatever the arrangement or the singer.
  13. Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    Jun 27, 2014
    75
    With its cast of extremely likable performers, the perfect summer-in-the-city backdrop—in this case, New York — and a soundtrack stuffed with catchy, well-produced hits, Begin Again makes for easy-breezy entertainment.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jun 26, 2014
    75
    Ruffalo and Knightley make an engaging pair of colleagues and their musical adventure together results in an enchanting, gently funny and occasionally poignant story.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jun 26, 2014
    75
    It's rare to find a movie that uses music to define love without sentimentalizing it. But Begin Again, with songs by Glen Hansard and New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander, is a wonderfully appealing exception.
  16. Reviewed by: David Lee Dallas
    Jun 23, 2014
    75
    It's a film that lives in the high and not in the comedown, even though its characters are often stalled and wallowing.
  17. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jul 5, 2014
    70
    Sappy but engaging. [7 & 14 July 2014, p.95]
  18. 70
    Begin Again is very funny, mostly because Ruffalo makes such an adorably rumpled drunken a--hole.
  19. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Jun 26, 2014
    70
    Begin Again is all about the untrammeled joys of music, but like a hit pop song, it works better in the emotions than it does through any close examination.
  20. Reviewed by: Keith Staskiewicz
    Jun 26, 2014
    67
    "Once" was a small and well-loved heirloom, its imperfections part of the charm. But Begin Again has been burnished to a shiny dullness.
  21. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 14, 2013
    67
    As a whole, Begin Again is a fairly mannered treatment of an expressive medium.
  22. Reviewed by: Kate Taylor
    Jul 10, 2014
    63
    Begin Again is a not-entirely-successful movie about not selling out; it’s a theme that must concern Carney deeply.
  23. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 2, 2014
    63
    Begin Again may not always swing, but it makes up for that in sincerity and a welcome willingness to ambush expectations.
  24. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jun 25, 2014
    63
    Writer-director John Carney re-plays his greatest hit with Begin Again, a semi-successful attempt to recreate the magic of the Oscar-winning musical “Once” in New York with a big name cast.
  25. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 2, 2014
    60
    It's easy to get sucked into Begin Again, to enjoy the friendly performances and the goes-down-easy songs, and to not even notice until it's over that the film is more a feel-good fairy tale than anything else. We might not have seen much that was truly meaningful in the end, but it was warm and fuzzy while it lasted.
  26. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 1, 2014
    60
    Even if Dan and Gretta charm each other more than they charm us, the music they make is harder to resist than they are.
  27. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jun 25, 2014
    60
    This film is never less than pleasant to spend time with, and that’s not a minor consideration when it comes to summer moviegoing.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 27, 2014
    58
    Most of the music is by New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander, and it’s heartfelt without ever really touching the heart.
  29. Reviewed by:  Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Jun 25, 2014
    58
    True to its title, Begin Again periodically restarts itself, nestling flashbacks within flashbacks; it’s an unnecessarily complicated structure for what is, frankly, little more than a corny, overstuffed, “let’s put on a show” musical.
  30. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 2, 2014
    50
    Begin Again is pleasantly predictable if you’re in an undemanding mood. If you’re not, it’s unbearable, like hearing a treasured folk song given a Hot 97 makeover.
  31. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jun 26, 2014
    50
    Compared with “Once,” Begin Again is a bit like the disappointing, overly produced follow-up to a new band’s breakthrough album.
  32. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jun 25, 2014
    50
    If “Once” was a bracing blast of cool spring water, Begin Again is a can of Fanta. If “Once” was a piano, Begin Again is a keytar. If “Once” was Otis Redding, Begin Again is Bruno Mars.
  33. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jun 25, 2014
    50
    The lugubrious pop songs by Gregg Alexander are execrable. Ms. Knightley isn’t remotely believable as a bike-riding pop singer. The saving grace is Mark Ruffalo, the only actor on the premises who shows any grit or passion for his character or for the music business.
  34. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Jun 24, 2014
    50
    All that prickly inner conflict Ruffalo is so adept at suggesting? Cheery Begin Again wants none of it, offering instead lots of scenes of two characters we don't believe could ever exist arguing about authenticity in pop music.
  35. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Sep 14, 2013
    50
    Since the music doesn't connect like it should, everything else that is underpinned in the story by these songs also doesn't come together with the weight or power Carney surely intended.
  36. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jun 26, 2014
    40
    Knightley does fine work, but she’s been miscast. Her innate sophistication undermines the movie’s intentions right off the bat. We never believe her as Greta.
  37. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jun 24, 2014
    40
    False moments far outweigh the genuine ones, be it smarmy Dan’s indisputable genius (he’s such a stubble-sporting rebel, he refuses to wear suits) or the bogus anticorporate finale that leaves an especially slick aftertaste.
  38. Reviewed by: Paul MacInnes
    Sep 14, 2013
    40
    The film's sole saving grace is, of course, Ruffalo.
  39. Reviewed by: Laremy Legel
    Sep 14, 2013
    35
    A film that inserts banal plot devices and endless cutesiness in place of where the “good parts” should be.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Jul 4, 2014
    9
    A fantastic, fantastic movie. Ruffalo really shines and Adam Levine is an absolutely unexpected standout. He did a great a job. I really enjoyed the story, pacing, characters, and acting. The ending was also really solid. Overall a splendid movie. Full Review »
  2. Jul 2, 2014
    7
    Overall, this one feels a bit magical and is quite heart warming. Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are great and their chemistry with one another feels authentic. Hailee Steinfeld is also good in a supporting role here. Adam Levine, at times, shows his inexperience in acting and is severely outclassed, but never really seems like dead weight either. The characters are well put together, the story is told well, and as I just said, the overall experience is a feel good one. Nothing really overly unique and great about the film as a whole, but it works for what it is. However, the one area where the film is phenomenal is in its music. The songs in the film are magical and really click every single time. Watching them record them and then hearing the final product is a fun and enjoyable thing to see and to see them come together and express themselves doing so is another nice touch. Really, everything to do with the music here is pitch perfect. Full Review »
  3. Jul 19, 2014
    9
    9.5 Run don't walk to see this unpublicized treasury of a movie. These are characters you really care about. The acting is superb and the music outrageously good. John Carney has made a masterpiece and hardly anyone knows about it. I just saw it after being released 3 weeks ago and the theater was 90% full. Word of mouth is spreading. At the end of the movie the audience just sits there taking it all in. It ends way too soon leaving us wanting more. It's a movie about real life filled with regrets, sorrow, happiness and rebirth. Full Review »