(Netflix Streaming, August 2018) Mark Ruffalo makes for an unlikely star, but you can’t deny his hangdog charm. He’s one of the two biggest reasons why Begin Again work, the other one being John Carney’s uncanny ability to make great musically dominated movies. I watched Begin Again largely because I was intrigued to see if Carney would match the effectiveness of Once and Sing Street. I shouldn’t have worried. Begin Again takes place in New York City and targets a disgraced record label executive (Ruffalo) as he discovers a new talent (Kiera Knightley, possibly miscast) that he nurtures to success. There are plenty of things here that could have gone wrong: it’s a very familiar story, after all, and under rougher hands it probably would have ended with a mismatched-age romance between the two. But Carney knows better, and after some initial romantic tension, the mentor/mentee relationship proves to be enough, especially when both of them gain from the experience. The centrepiece of the film, as with other Carney movies, is a sequence in which the characters come together for the sheer fun of making music, shooting a video on New York City rooftops and backstreets. While, overall, Begin Again doesn’t have the same punch as Carney’s earlier Once, it’s a lot more fun and colourful. And while Knightley isn’t much of a signer, she does have chemistry with Ruffalo, while Ruffalo himself has enough charm to power the rest of the movie by himself. While Begin Again may not age all that well, it does illustrate the music industry at the beginning of the 2010s, poised between the decade-old traditional system and the disruptive influence of the web. It’s still a worthwhile movie, and a nice link between Carney’s other movies.