The Toronto Film Festival is currently in full swing, and amidst the intense selection of films one that has been deemed a bonafide highlight is Can a Song Save Your Life? from director John Carney. The film, from the director of the much praised and Academy Award winning Once, is a comedy-drama about budding singer-songwriters starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo and ignited an all night bidding war after its world premiere this past weekend. The Weinstein Company, noticing the potential for a crossover, crowd-pleasing hit, snagged the film in one of the most eagerly-fought acquisitions in quite some time. Can a Song Save Your Life? stars Knightley (last seen on screens in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina) who moves to the U.S. with her singer boyfriend (played by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) only to catch him with another woman. Dejected she sings a song that catches the attention of a past-his prime record executive, played by Ruffalo (next to seen in the sex addiction romantic comedy Thanks for Sharing as well as this December’s Foxcatcher). The two strike a bond on the way to finding success and rebuilding each others personal lives in the process. Hailee Steinfeld (Oscar-nominee for True Grit), Mos Def, CeeLo Green and two-time Oscar nominee Catherine Keener co-star.
The film earned rapturous praise upon its premiere. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney wrote, “The film’s quiet pleasures creep up on you” and Screen International’s Mark Adams called the film, “a warm-hearted pleasure with a whole lot of soul, and effortlessly propelled forward by charming and compassionate performances by Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.” More importantly, the adoring reception at the premiere signaled the potential for a crossover mainstream hit, something of which we can expect to be further exploited when the promotional machine hits its full stride now that the film is in Harvey Weinstein’s hands.
This is similar terrain for Carney, who in 2007 quietly debuted the charming Irish musical Once at that year’s Sundance Film Festival, where the film received tremendous critical and festival-goer support (winning the World Dramatic Audience Award) before being snapped up by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Once, even though modest, became a respectable art house hit that year and eventually won the Best Original Song Academy Award – the song “Falling Slowly” has since become a popular hit. The film reached greater heights when it was turned into a Broadway musical, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2012. The fate in Can a Song Save Your Life? remains to be seen; however, we do know now it will eventually be seen. We can speculate that due to the heavy slate of awards contenders that The Weinstein Company has in store for the latter part of this year, that the film will likely be a 2014 release (and may perhaps follow Once‘s path onward to Best Song award nominations), but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.