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Gemma’s Gem of the Week: Begin Again and Starting Over

Gemma’s Gem of the Week: Begin Again and Starting Over

Begin Again 2013. USA. Written and Directed by John Carney. With Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.

Begin Again is one of those rare romantic comedies that ends with the protagonist choosing to start over and fly solo. As romantic as a partnered “happily ever after” can be, it’s refreshing to see the main character achieve contentment on her own.

Gretta (Keira Knightley) and Dan (Mark Ruffalo) cross paths in New York City after the two hit rock bottom. Gretta’s partner has cheated on her, so she is contemplating leaving New York, while Dan has just been fired from a major record label. Once Dan stumbles into a bar and hears Gretta sing, he envisions her music being fully produced, seeing a glimmer of hope for the first time in a while.

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in Begin Again 2013

Though the two have a rocky start, Gretta agrees to Dan’s idea of producing her music throughout the streets of New York. Nothing about their journey after that is conventional or easy – but they move forward regardless.

The dynamic of Gretta and Dan’s relationship is another refreshing touch in this film. Since the two are experiencing outward relationship complications and loneliness, it would make sense for them to fall into a romantic relationship; but this never happens. Despite lingering moments of eye contact and curious pauses, the two remain friends. Dan is later able to rekindle his relationship with his wife as Gretta observes with contentment, not sadness.

Not everyone is destined for a romantic relationship – but that does not diminish the value of an authentic, platonic relationship.

Keira Knightley in Begin Again 2013

Deciding to give a pleading Dave (Adam Levine) one final chance, Gretta attends his concert and stands across from him as he sings her version of “Lost Stars.” Realizing she is backstage, the two make eye contact, and Dave could not be more ecstastic. However – as the song progresses, Gretta begins to have a change of heart, and leaves the show altogether.

Riding away on her bicycle, Gretta says goodbye to this chapter of her life; happier, free, and content, moving into something new.

Many stories might depict the main character feeling stuck when entering a new chapter alone, but this movie debunks that idea by shifting uncertainty into hope. Upon leaving a relationship that was no longer serving her, Gretta uncovered dreams of her own, which she sets off to pursue herself in the end.

Starting over may sound like a daunting endeavor on paper, but the truth is, we’re allowed to start over in our adult lives whenever we want. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is separate ourselves from what is no longer serving us, because we never know just how much growth may await in exploring something new.

Song of the Week: “Hollywood″ by Jukebox the Ghost



Gemma Farquhar is the writer of "Gemma's Gem of the Week" and author of "The Shape of Something New." She is passionate about the future of storytelling and welcomes all ages to her column.

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