Let me begin by saying it has been a very pleasant weekend at the cineplex. This film is one reason: Here, we have a compilation of plot points, none of which are particularly original or extreme, but by the miracle of strong writing and exceptional acting, we get a movie that is refreshing and surprisingly original.
Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a down-and-out record promoter. His wife, Miriam (Catherine Keener), has left him, his daughter, Violet (Hailee Steinfeld), merely tolerates him, and his colleagues simply want him to go away. That is when he stumbles into a bar and happens upon Gretta (Keira Knightly) singing a soulful song with an acoustic guitar. Gretta’s boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine), has hit the big time and has left her behind. Together, Dan and Gretta decide to buck the system and record an album on their own in various locations in Manhattan, hopefully healing in the process.
And that’s it. The film is charming. If you’re a music lover, the original songs and soundtrack are a special treat. Adam Levine is a pleasant surprise as the sellout songster. In fact, if there’s a weak link in the acting, it’s Keira Knightley, who seems surprisingly detached in her portrayal. That being said, Mark Ruiffalo’s vulnerable, bitter Dan more than carries the acting burden for the pair. The film isn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t wrapped up in a tight little bow, but all in all, it’s a captivating film. It’s a 7.