Yesterday I watched Begin Again as recommended by a colleague. It is an easy-breezy film filled with well-written songs that bring great comfort to the ear. After so many years of not buying any CD of new songs, I grabbed a copy of the original soundtrack on my way out of the cinema.
The film was just so-so, if I may, spoiled by a plot that has little depth and too many broken links. For example, I still have no idea why Dan can reconcile with Miriam without really tackling the problems between them. Or did they just decide to set it aside, kick it away and move on? Only if any human life can be that easy and forgiving. Every one of us has our own problems. The most difficult thing on earth is turning a blind eye to something that has always been there, and keep telling – cheating – yourself that it is not; there is nothing. Some may think some day it will go away or disappear, but more often the reality proves that they are wrong. Terribly wrong.
Never mind though. Perhaps the film was just meant to create some hope, albeit unreal or surreal, in this hopeless world of humanity, but this is exactly where I see tremendous sadness permeate. As I see it, Dan and Miriam choose to sweep their problems under the carpet to begin again – together. Gretta does pretty much the same, although in a different way. She chooses not to give herself and Dave a second chance not because she refuses to forgive, but because she has changed. She has become another person, no longer what she used to be, from head to toe, from heart to mind. She begins a whole new chapter of life on her own, but for some reason there is a fair taint of bitterness on her grinning face. God knows when the problems will strike back, bigger and stronger, but that's not really where the sadness comes from. To begin again is not necessarily a better option as some may think, because it takes as much, or even more, courage and determination as to tackle the problems upfront. It is often the only way out when the problems can't be solved, just like stubborn stains in an old pot that can't be cleaned, as if they were born as part of the ware when it was first made. Only when nothing works to deal with or reverse the current situation will people think of starting anew. The despair and hopelessness of having no other viable solution than walking away is where the sadness of begin again sets in.
Indeed, detaching oneself from his/her past to start afresh also brings enormous pain. The past will haunt you and probe you to question every now and then whether your choice is right. The sad thing is, right or wrong, better or worse, there is no way you can reverse the situation. You simply can't turn the clock back. You just have to move on and put up with whatever you have, until the chance of another brand-new beginning emerges. Of course the film doesn't touch upon questions like this, but ends in a high note of hope and promising prospects. Yet Gretta's opening song does provide a hint that can hardly be ignored: A Step You Can't Take Back.
This is what "Begin Again" truly means. And this is why the song is my favourite of all in the film.