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Begin Again is a 2013 American musical comedy-drama film written and directed by John Carney and starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. Knightley plays a singer-songwriter who is discovered by a struggling record label executive (Ruffalo) and collaborates with him to produce an album recorded in public locations all over New York City.


This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Costars Adam Levine (Dave) and Cee Lo Green (Troublegum) who starred in the film, were judges on The Voice (2011) together.
  • Amicable Exes: Dan and Miriam, who fight a lot sometimes about their daughter but still manage to interact on good terms. Eventually, they get back together.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Lost Stars" was nominated for an Oscar but lost to Glory from Selma.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Discussed when Dan picks his daughter up from school.
    Dan: You want to go to the park and get ice cream or what?
    Violet: Why would I want to do that? I'm not ten.
  • Betty and Veronica:
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    • Gretta eventually finds herself torn between nice guy Dan and her bad boy ex, Dave.
    • Gretta is this (Betty) to Dave (Archie) before he cheats on her with Mim (Veronica).
  • Big Applesauce: Dan wants Gretta to record an album using New York's background noises.
  • Bitch Slap: Gretta delivers one to Dave after listening to a song he wrote and discovering that he's cheated on her.
  • Blatant Lies: Dave tells Gretta that he wrote a new song dedicated to her while he was "inspired in L.A". Then Gretta listens to it and things go downhill from there.
  • Bonding Through Shared Earbuds: Dan keeps a headphone splitter in his car as a memory of his first date with his ex-wife — they shared it listening to her CD as they walked around New York City. He and Gretta later do the same thing with the headphone splitter, and they walk around the city in a montage that culminates in a romantic moment.
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  • Break-Up Song: Gretta records one with Steve's help for Dave to tell him she moved on.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Dave finds it hard to keep a straight face during the listening to the song, making it that much easier for Gretta to figure out he cheated on her.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Through dialog and a short scene in her room, we learn that Dan's daughter plays the guitar. That skill doesn't go wastes as she later comes to play with the band.
  • Daddy's Girl: Violet becomes this to Dan, even if their father-daughter bond doesn't take off very well.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Gretta doesn't take Dave back after he breaks his promise to her and she finally sees him as a lost cause and leaves. Also, despite the tension building up between her and Dan earlier, she sees that Dan has reconciled with his ex-wife and she's okay with that.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: After a while of Will They or Won't They?, Dan gets back together with his ex-wife Miriam.
  • Eyes Never Lie: Gretta can tell that Dave has cheated on her simply just by looking into his eyes while listening to his new song "A Higher Place".
  • Fat Best Friend: Steve is this to Gretta.
  • Feedback Rule: When Keira Knightley's character plays guitar and sings on stage, there is a noticeable mic feedback at one point. It's questionable why because that part wasn't louder than others, it was probably added as a reassurance that this was indeed a live performance.
  • Foreshadowing: Steve, telling Gretta that he could soon record an album in his apartment because of all the intruments he got for cheap. It comes true later on, though not inside the apartment.
  • Good-Times Montage: In a montage we see the lead characters walking through the city with their headphones on, singing to different songs.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene at the bar is not the first scene chronologically. In flashbacks we learn how each of the protagonists came to be there that night.
  • Improv: Much of the film is improvised.
  • Intercourse with You: Dave's song "A Higher Place" which Gretta immediately interprets as this and slaps him across the face when she realizes she's not the girl in the song he's singing about.
  • Last Minute Hookup: Dan and Miriam.
  • Love Triangle: Gretta torn between her ex Dave and her growing friendship with Dan. Also Dan between Gretta and his ex-wife Miriam.
  • Moment Killer: After Dan and Gretta explore New York with the headphone splitter, it is clear that something would've happened in the apartment if James Corden's character hadn't popped up from behind the counter.
  • My Card: Dan is handing our his business card to various people including the female lead.
  • Jail Bait: During an argument, Dan and Miriam express fear that their daughter Violet is becoming this, due to her dressing inappropriately and how boys her age won't talk to her but older guys will because they want to sleep with her. Then they proceed to blame the other for it.
  • Pedo Hunt: Dan and Miriam discuss this in an argument as Miriam points out to him that one of the problems is that nobody wants to talk to Violet and the only guys who do are "older guys who want to f—k her".
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Like A Fool":
    And you have broken every single fucking rule''
    And I have loved you like a fool
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Downplayed. Dan and Gretta have a minor dispute over his relationship to his daughter. He leaves the restaurant in a rage but both reconcile soon after.
  • Quick Nip: Dan seems to have some problems with the bottle as he is seen nipping from his flask a couple of times.
  • Shout-Out: Dan mentions that his daughter is dressed like Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver.
    • The Electric Lady recording studio was also featured in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008).
    • In the film, Dave Kohl's debut album is titled Jane's Last Day. The title of the album parodies the debut album Songs About Jane by Adam Levine's band Maroon 5.
  • She's All Grown Up: Dan's reaction when he sees his young daughter, especially since she's wearing an inappropriate style of outfit.
  • Romantic False Lead: Dave to Gretta, once it becomes clear to her that he is a lost cause. Also, Gretta is this to Dan once it becomes clear who he finally decides to become romantically close with — his ex-wife Miriam whom he has feelings for and reconciles with by the film's end.
  • Shower of Love. Discussed by Dan as an option when taking a shower at his ex-wife's.
  • Stripperiffic: Violet's outfit which exposes her stomach and also comes with very short shorts. Highly inappropriate since she's 14. Her dad clearly doesn't approve of the wardrobe choice and Gretta Lampshades it when Violet comes to her asking for advice about a boy she likes.
Gretta: He's into you. So stop dressing like you're easy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After seeing Dave's award speech, Gretta calls him out on his selfishness in song, via the track "Like A Fool".
  • Unusual Euphemism: "I was inspired in L.A."
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: There is clearly some sexual tension between Dan and Gretta, especially after the music sharing scene, and right after when he takes her back to the apartment.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Dave cheating on Gretta with Mim. Yes, with THAT Mim. Dan's wife also cheated on him with a musician, which led to their falling out.
  • Younger Than They Look: Violet, who's only fourteen but dresses inappropriately and acts beyond her years, much to her father's shock and confusion. This is also Lampshaded by Gretta later in the film.

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