You can’t just watch this Once

Once (2006)
85 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by John Carney
Starring:  Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Grade:  A

Once is your modern-day musical about a busker who meets a girl on the streets of Dublin and ends up making beautiful music together.  The plot is nothing more than that, well except a slight romance story, but the performances and its simplicity plays in its favor making the film very powerful and moving.  The shaky camera shots give a documentary feel and adds to the realism that makes the story so emotionally charged.

The two main characters never declare their names throughout the movie, which I thought was pretty neat.  It’s your natural “guy meets girl” story with a musical spin.  And combining the talents of The Frames’ lead singer/guitarist Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, two musicians not actors, with a lot of ad-libbed dialogue, the movie flowed with ease.  Nothing was forced and as first time actors, they both did a great job.  Oh, and another thing that I liked about this modern-day musical was that there were no show-stopping tunes, nor were there any dancing routines.  It was a musical without looking like a musical.

While I loved all of the songs in the film, the one that still lingers in my heart is its anthem, “Falling Slowly.”  This is the first song that Glen and Marketa play together in the music shop, and from that instant you knew that something between these two was special; whether it was composing songs or something more personal.  With the lyrics, “I don’t know you but I want you, all the more for that” it’s so much more beautiful hearing those words sung rather than spoken.  I can’t imagine the depth of those words pronounced in a more meaningful way than when they harmonized it together.  This type of movie with music clashing against their situations fill up more than half of the film, and it’s such an experience to enjoy.

Just shot in 17 days and with a budget of approximately $160,000 (according to IMDB), Once accomplishes a lot more than expected.  It’s impossible to not care about the two lovely and sweet characters, whom their passion for music has brought them together.  It seems like fate.  The glow in their eyes when they play their instruments and talk about music is the real show-stopper.  Oh, and the ending is perfect.

This film holds a place very close to my heart.  I truly loved this film.  I loved the music, the performances, the story, the surprises, the ending, and the lingering effect I’m left with after the film has concluded.  Once is without a doubt one of my favorite films of the year and I couldn’t have been more happy to watch them accept their Best Original Song Oscar during the 2008 Academy Awards.


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