What you remember most about "To Begin Again" is the music -- a cacophony of Johann Pachelbel and Cole Porter. Pachelbel's Canon, so overused it's become movie Muzak, swamps the quiet characters in this Spanish, Oscar-winning film.
Porter's "Begin the Beguine" then takes over where Pachelbel left off, sashaying through the leading man's last affair like an insensitive taxi dancer. But at least in Porter's case, the lyrical sentiments apply: "And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted / I know but too well what they mean."
Nobel Prize-winner Antonio Albajara (Antonio Ferrandis), visiting his native Spain after 40 years, rekindles the dying embers of his first love, tenderly played by Encarna Paso in her film debut. The couple share a few halcyon days before he returns to his writing and teaching at Berkeley.
He also reminisces with an old soccer teammate (Jose Bodalo), revealing that Albajara has only six months to live. But director Jose Luis Garci lets the chance for an emotional scene slide by.
Garci, also co-author, never allows a change of pace or a climactic release -- not even a good cry, just sniffles. And he sometimes overwhelms the cast with too many surfside scenes and skylines. Still, it's a sweet, artistic film, its somberness relieved only by Augustin Gonzalez playing a comically compulsive concierge.
"To Begin Again," with English subtitles, will appeal to old flames who dream of sparking once more. That is if they're not smothered in music first. TO BEGIN AGAIN -- At the Outer Circle.