The Myth of the Last Honest Man
Begin Again was a movie I knew nothing about going in. I do that sometimes. It's easier to get a legit opinion when you're not bogged down in hype. I'll be honest and say I normally wait until the movie is at the cheap theater when I haven't seen a trailer, but it's hot outside, and the movie theater promises a great air conditioner plus movie theater popcorn, so I figured even if I didn't like it, it was a win.
I left the theater feeling good, but that's true of most movies, so I'll say instead that I left thinking, and that's pretty powerful stuff. If I had to find a tie-in to my theme of romance and/or fairytales, I'd say that this movie is the myth of the last honest man.
Honesty and integrity are important to the Skaggs family, it's a myth of its own, I think, and I often find myself making choices based on what is right versus what is easy, and sometimes, choosing the right thing isn't rewarded in this world. Hell, sometimes it's punished. Dishonest people (especially those you think you can trust) will use your honesty and disabuse you of your trust. But that's not what this movie is about. Which is part of the reason I liked it.
It's not a romance in the traditional sense. It's about the power of money and fame and how easy it is to be seduced by either or both. Enter Keira Knightley, the second half of a couple who gets left behind by a man (Adam Levine) whose ego bought the hype of his imminent fame. Even though he is an absolute cutie, it was easy to dislike Levine. I mean, really easy (the beard did not help). Mark Ruffalo (one of my favorite actors) is a washed-up (and drunk) music producer who wants to produce Knightley's album, one she's not even sure she wants to make. What ensues is about redemption, and choices, and family. It's about the Cee Lo Green character who stands by Ruffalo, because even though he's had a few rough years, Ruffalo was responsible for this man's success (and we all hope that our friends will stand by us, even if--God forbid--we're washed up and drunk).
As I left the theater, I thought about authenticity, something that was important to the Knightley character. Creative people for the most part seriously have to consider the power of being authentic. It's hard, because when you're real, when you are who you are, that means any artistic judgments are about you and not some character. Being honest in art is hard and imminently rewarding, but it does take courage, and not everyone has it. I certainly didn't when I was young.
There are movies and songs and albums written, bought, and sold strictly for the desire for pop culture celebrity. It's the way of the world. And if they entertain, then they have value. Hey, I like popular movies and top-forty music, so I'm not throwing stones. If the value is entertainment, it's certainly a necessary commodity in our world. But what of those artists who wanted more? Who started to write or paint or act or sing because they had something to say?
I know people who "sold out" their art, and there's something about it that leaves them a hallow shell of who they were and what they believed about themselves and the world. Fame is seductive, as the Knightley character learns through her breakup with Levine. Does she follow in his steps? Sorry, no spoilers here, although the idea of the last honest man certainly foreshadows the ending.
We'd like to believe that in a world rife with greed and power, that an honest man can still succeed in the world. For me, the jury is still out. But if you do happen to find an honest man, let me know. Just because he's a myth doesn't mean I don't believe.
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Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)