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Genre Music
Year: 2006

A young guy busking in Ireland, meets a young immigrant girl and they start to rehearse and record music together, which tells their love story. Once is a modern day musical drama that follows in the footsteps of Before Sunrise, except the language of love is expressed through music. John Carney writes and directs the film with the help of 2 digital camcorders, and a cast of real musicians.

Glen Hansard stars as Guy, and could easily be mistaken for the reincarnation of Cat Stevens. He’s supported by Markéta Irglová, whose beautiful piano ballads are simply angelic. The music propels Once, and absorbs 60% of the film’s 85 minute runtime. This would detract from the movie if the music wasn’t so emotionally-charged and powerful. It’s not surprising that Hansard and Irglová won an Oscar for best original song in Falling Slowly.

The script seems improvised, and there are plenty of expletives laced into the dialogue. The spontaneity of the script, the natural lighting and the camcorder recording give Once a sidewalk reality and truth. The chemistry between Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová isn’t forced, and complements this bittersweet love story. Once plays like a chunk of life, and defies all Hollywood rules of engagement.

The only criticism of Once would be that it sometimes crosses over from film into advertorial. This would have been a brilliant idea for any struggling musician looking to release an album on a shoestring budget. Although, this “flaw” is easily accommodated when you actually hear the passion behind the music, making a solid little indie gem of a film.

The bottom line: Heartfelt.

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