How to be a creative in a money-hungry world

Mark Ruffalo. He was the primary reason why I watched this movie. His characters often hold a cauldron of pain inside their seemingly strong/irreverent facade and the man has a way of making you want to hug him from the other side of the screen. (And to me, his version of The Hulk is the best.) What can I say? I love angsty men.

Dan is a classic Ruffalo character. At the beginning of the movie, we see how he’s at the wrong end of the corporate ladder; he’s about to be fired from the recording label he started and had suffered through seven years of mental instability, alcoholism and the worst case of marriage blahs ever. And yeah, his daughter thinks he is a loser.

When he meets Gretta (Knightley), he was minutes away from jumping off a subway platform. Then Gretta reluctantly sings on stage … he pays attention … and finds a reason to hang on.

He sees in Gretta not just fresh new talent but a reason to reignite his love for creativity. For Gretta, who just got majorly screwed (not in the romantic kind of way) by her rock star boyfriend Dave, Dan gives her the reason to live a life beyond being the girlfriend of Dave and to have the courage to share her immense talent with the world.

Critics could accuse Begin Again for being clichéd. “Yeah, yeah. I can see the ending a mile away. Dan finds a reason for living, he pieces his life together and so does Gretta.” After all, the tagline of the movie is, “Can a song save a life?” How obvious can you get?

But the movie doesn’t end the way you’d expect. In fact, I’d be terribly disappointed if it did. But despite that, the movie’s ending is both satisfying and, if I may, profound. It reinforces the message that we should all create from our souls.

For creatives like me, Begin Again speaks to my heart so deeply that I was dying to stand up and shout, “Hell, yeah!” It says, Dare to

  • … suck.
  • … create even if you think you suck.
  • … create even if people say you suck.
  • … create even if you don’t get a seal of approval from the “people who matter”.
  • … say no to the “people who matter”.
  • … create even if you don’t have the best equipment …
  • … or the best talent.
  • … create art that don’t smell of money.
  • … be true to yourself.
  • … create for the joy of creating.
  • … never compromise your integrity.
  • … take control of your art and share your passion.

On top of that, it has a killer soundtrack (Kiera Knightley sings in this one, and she ain’t bad at all). I leave you with the lovely Kiera Knightley singing my favourite song in the movie. The Adam Levine version is as good, but I love her purer version.

Originally published at on August 10, 2014.



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Elizabeth Tai

Elizabeth Tai

Corporate writer by day, writer of all things in between. I also share my thoughts at