Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Make Music – The Hollywood Reporter

Few filmmakers romanticize music — its magical ability to move and transform us — more than John Carney. penetrating hit, Once (2007), which follows an Irish musician with guitar and a Czech pianist in Dublin, won audiences, won the Academy Award for Best Song and inspired a Broadway musical. Flora and his son It’s not a remake, but Carney certainly borrows the tropes of his earlier films, from the difficult lives of his characters to the story involving their attempt to write a song together, and the plot in which romance and music-making are inseparable. But why not borrow and modify the winning formula?

Flora and his son He has a great advantage Eve Hewson As Flora, the young mother of a 14-year-old boy, Max (Orn is very normal Kinlan), whose petty theft threatens to put him in juvenile detention. As it did in the last series Bad sistersAnd Hewson Chaos takes a flawed but kind-hearted character and makes her sympathetic, likable, and totally human. When Max was born just 17, Flora had both a babysitter, but not a sentimental maternal angel. She is first seen dancing profusely and drinking in a club. She cursed her son in exasperation. Mostly, she’s on the loose about what to do with him, while her ex, Max’s father (Jack Reynor), is himself too big a kid to be of any help.

Flora and his son

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Simple delight.

When Flora finds an old guitar in a dumpster, she restores it for Max. But he refuses the present the day after she forgets his birthday (thanks, Mom), so she decides to take the lessons herself. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jeff, the teacher she found online, a former hopeful musician who lives in Topanga and now gives lessons on Zoom for $20 each. When Jeff speaks passionately about his passion for music and its ability to affect us emotionally, he may also be channeling the emotions that make up Carney’s film. The dialogue could have sounded like hot-air speech, but Gordon-Levitt makes it totally believable, and gives Jeff an understated charm that creates a dynamic of opposites attracting with Flora’s boisterous vitality.

Flora and Jeff’s Zoom sessions are more lively than you might expect. At first, she was fed a large glass of wine, came to him, and sent a letter of apology the next day. Their connection is evident even through their screens, and once lessons begin in earnest, Carney weaves the music that infuses the film. The original songs were written by Gary Clark and Carney, who together also do the music Sing Street (2016), Carney’s film about 1980s teens who put together a band. The new songs are mostly ballads, some of which are deliberately amateurish—Jeff would never be a star—and others are beautiful. Gordon-Levitt and Hewson do their own vocals, with gentle, light, and unassuming vocals.

Carney’s point, in all of his films, is that music for its own sake is one of life’s great gifts, an idea Jeff helps Flora appreciate. When his humble apostrophe about Topanga fails to get her moving, he sends her a video of Joni Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now.” He is not fooled by the difference between Mitchell’s talent and his own, but that will never stop him from playing.

Music also varies across styles. While tutoring Flora, Jeff sang parts of songs for Tom Waits and Huggie Carmichael. As the story progresses smoothly, Max begins mixing tracks and adding rap lyrics on his laptop, and Flora helps him create a music video for a girl he likes. Whenever the next steps in rom-com plots seem obvious, though, Carney veers off in different directions.

Carney and production designer Ashley Jeffers have a keen sense of detailed texture to the characters’ lives, especially Flora’s cluttered apartment, filled with ashtrays and wine glasses. There is nothing flashy or eye catching about the visuals here. Filming and editing is nothing more than solid and functional. Carney tends to rely on a flat shot/reverse shot style for much of the film. But in a couple of elegantly done scenes, Jeff actually appears in Flora’s kitchen or in the garden where he’s enlarged, her wishful imagination bringing him into her space as their relationship grows.

Since Carney’s films now have a distinct signature, Flora and SueYou will not land with the same sense of authenticity Once an act. But this compelling film takes full advantage of its stylistic DNA.

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