One night while drinking at a bar, Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), a struggling record producer, encounters Greta ( Keira Knightly), a fiercely independent songwriter. Though Greta’s guitar-playing and vocals evoke yawns from the audience, the lyrics of her broken love affair speak directly to Dan’s own spiritual crisis. In a powerful and enchanting scene created by Carney, Dan produces Greta’s song in his head, complete with instrumental backup.
Certain that he can make her into a star, Dan offers to sign Greta to his company’s label. Determined to stick to her artistic principles, Greta turns him down and walks away.
In flashbacks, we learn that Dan is estranged from his wife and was recently fired from his job, having not signed any new artists in over seven years. Greta has recently broken up with her longtime boyfriend and songwriting partner Dave Cole (Adam Levine). Dispirited, she intends to leave New York.
After a change of heart, she calls Dan and agrees to record an album. With the finacial help of a popular rapper friend (CeeLo Green), Dan recruits a team of talented musicians, and they set out to make an album live in various New York locations.
In musical scenes, Knightly is at her best, surprising as a soulful singer. Ruffalo wins you over with solid charm and unforced humor. But if you’re looking for the typical Hollywood love affair ending, you may be disappointed. Still, Knightly and Ruffalo’s performances are compelling. And the music will knock you out.