August 24th, 2019

Begin Again ***


I’ve written a lot of articles praising the institution of marriage over the years.

Today I’m going to switch it up and offer some genuine praise in defense of the institution of divorce.

I never conceived of divorce as being an option for me. But I am incredibly grateful that my ex-wife did. With one little open-minded decision, she changed my entire life for the better.

Married life in my late 30s had become an endless, meaningless cycle of boring work at my cubicle followed by boring evenings on the couch. I had become so beaten down by routine that I couldn’t even imagine a different path for myself.

My wife started to dislike me. And, in her defense, I didn’t like anything about myself either. When she said that she was leaving me, I didn’t even have a counterargument.

In a jarringly short time, I went from being a couch potato to a social butterfly.

Being newly single forces a person to become stronger, braver, and more adventurous. And this opens up a whole new world of interesting people and new experiences.

This is exactly what happens to Gretta (Keira Knightley) at the beginning of “Begin Again.”

Gretta just found out that her pop star boyfriend has been cheating on her. With nowhere else to go, she spends the evening with a New York street musician pal.

While hanging out at a lower Manhattan bar on open mic night, Gretta’s friend suddenly calls her up on stage and pressures her to perform a song. She’s newly single and questioning everything. It’s the perfect time to take a risk and try something new.

Gretta’s performance catches the attention of a down and out record company executive – Dan (Mark Ruffalo) – with relationship problems of his own.

In Dan, Gretta sees an inspiring mentor. In Gretta, Dan sees a young artist who can rekindle his creative fire.

They decide to record the songs for Gretta’s album outside on the streets and rooftops of New York City. The movie is a feel-good fable about how they turn their unlikely dream into reality.

“Begin Again” isn’t a love story; it’s a love of life story.

Whether or not you like the film is will be largely dependent on whether you enjoy the music. “Begin Again” has a surprisingly large number of original songs. Besides the two main characters, the cast is mostly made up of real musicians (Mos Def, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green).

I enjoyed most of the songs. So I enjoyed the movie despite the fact that it has a pretty flimsy plot.

For the record, I am not recommending that you leave your spouse and break up your family. I am just reporting the fact that I am happy that my ex-wife did. I’m grateful to have this opportunity to begin again.

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