Urrrghhh I was thinking. I don’t want to see this film. What a sickly looking try-hard rom-com.
How wrong I was….
Being unfamiliar with John Carney’s Once, all I knew was that there were comparisons between that effort and this film.
Rock solid performances from Keira Knightley as the less than impressed English sometimes-songwriter Gretta, who splits with her rising star boyfriend Dave – admirably executed by Adam Levine, and the always raffish, and charming Mark Ruffalo – still my favourite Hulk ever (Sorry Eric!) who plays his role as almost washed up A& R Man Dan Mulligan to perfection, helped this story rocket into my heart in the most unexpected way.
I love how great films can make us believe the unbelievable – that incredible things can seem possible.
This film takes a simple and plausible premise – that a up and coming musician dumps his partner of five years while recording an album stateside only to have her embark on a journey of self discovery where her own musical abilities blossom and threaten to eclipse his, and gives you a ringside seat with some top writing and very real touches in the performances.
Levine is a suitable choice to lay a douche-bag boyfriend. What may surprise some people is the fact that a) the guy has talent out of this world in the music department and can actually act, and b) is one of the most self-deprecating people I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. On a visit to my radio station while in Australia several years ago with his band Maroon 5 , Levine played along as we rang a bunch of radio stations and got him to request a Maroon 5 song. Hearing Adam Levine request his own song off the skeptical announcer at Triple J is one of my favourite moments in almost two decades of interviewing talent. The guy gets that he’s not cool.An enormous commercial success and much loved by adoring fans yes – but cool, who cares!
There’s something so utterly charming about the relationship between Ruffalo’s record company guy character of Dan, who desperately needs a hit to get back his mojo, and the super innocent Knightley who is growing up with each day in New York that you can’t help but be captivated by this sweet tale.
Having just spent a few weeks in New York City made the film all the more enjoyable for me and I was really surprised by how funny it is and how much heart it dared to show.
Sure it’s cheesy, but if this doesn’t put a smile on your face then you might want to check that you have a beating heart in your chest.
The only small criticisms would be Knightley’s lip-synching left a lot to be desired – possibly more the edit than her ability to mime – and Levine’s beard bordering on the ridiculous once he comes back from LA, but these are small distraction to the main event’s ability to reach the finale without much of a bum note along the way.