It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
For John Carney, "Once" apparently is not enough. The Irish writer/director who serenaded the world with that wee Dublin fairy-tale sensation from 2006 is back again to tease audiences with another song-filled variation on his signature brand of platonic lust in "Begin Again."
With its cast of extremely likable performers, the perfect summer-in-the-city backdrop—in this case, New York—and a soundtrack stuffed with catchy, well-produced hits, "Begin Again" makes for easy-breezy entertainment. And it provides the perfect alternative to certain obnoxious boy toys that will be mangling the box office into their own private playpen this weekend.
The one fly in this perfectly fine ointment: Carney’s idea of romance leaves me frustrated. Not that the guy isn’t fully capable of being a matchmaker. The stars of "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, turned into a real-life couple for a while after working together. But onscreen, the filmmaker likes to keep sexual combustibility on a simmer while never fully turning up the heat—as if even a mere kiss would scorch the sacred essence shared by spiritual soul mates.
Some might prefer that approach as opposed to more clichéd male-female entanglements. But think what would have happened if Carney had made "When Harry Met Sally…". That classic funny valentine would probably end with the two leads exchanging a handshake, a knowing look or even just a heartfelt thank-you while agreeing that, yes, they should just be friends.