A busker (Glen Hansard) singing and playing guitar on a Dublin street attracts the attention of young Czech migrant (Marketa Irglova), herself a pianist, singer and lyricist. Tentatively they begin to see each other and write music, drawn together by respective broken relationships. Their collaboration concludes in a demo recording with a scratch band of helpers, as their relationship deepens - but in unexpected ways.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A film driven by music, as distinct from the traditional Hollywood musical structure, Once is a simple yet not simplistic love story which doesn't end as you might expect. If it did, it would be less original and less haunting. The filmmaking is - to me, at least - reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch, with its observation of everyday in a simple, almost naïve use of the camera. The characters, too, are Jarmuschi, in their scattered personalities and backgrounds, as well as their features and characteristics. The effect is to draw us in and minimalise the intrusion of the filmmaker.
The music is crucial, and it's important to know that writer director John Carney was a member of The Frames, whose lead singer, Glen Hansard plays the lead role. In other words, the film is an organic fusion of the people who made it and their artistic experience. The songs, mostly by Hansard, apparently weren't all written specifically for the movie, but simply collated for it - presumably from his bottom draw. Hansard and Irglova are terrific together, both musically and cinematically, and the bitter sweet story gets its hooks into us well before the end.
It's by no means a grand film, but that's to its credit. The gentle exploration of the pain that haunts both lead characters (unnamed) provides a dramatic backdrop to the warming relationship.
Published February 7, 2008
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ONCE: DVD (M)
CAST: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova,
PRODUCER: Martina Niland
DIRECTOR: John Carney
SCRIPT: John Carney
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Fleming
EDITOR: Paul Mullen
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tamara Conboy
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 30, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
DVD RELEASE: February 6, 2008