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I write these for friends and if you love movies you are a friend: I
saw a movie last night that was so good that I have spent the last hour
looking up information about it on the Internet Movie Data Base and
related links. I have included the Fox Searchlight website for the
movie at the bottom of this review so you can hear the music. So now I
know that is was made in 17 days and at a cost of less than $150K and
reflects a Dublin of 10-15 years ago when Dublin was much poorer and
more working class.
And, I would be much poorer in life and spirit, and my heart, like most of us, covered in scar tissue from life, would not seem so vulnerable and new, if I had not seen this movie. A simple story of a street musician in Ireland, singing covers during the day for Euros, and his own music at night for cents. A verging on middle aged man, still living with his Da, repairing vacuums in a tiny shop and writing songs to his lost love in his tinier bedroom. Approached by girl, an immigrant, who loves his songs, understands the pain that gave them life, and soon they are in a music shop with the girl playing the piano and together they prove that art isn't produced from big budgets or green lit by ten vice presidents and that seventeen days and a pittance can make me get goose bumps just trying to write a review of what I saw in a dark theater with ten other people in a complex dominated by Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman.
I knew a woman once who only read novels about unrequited love. What a wonderful phrase: unrequited love. Archaic, unrequited, love, universally known and unknown, and as a friend said about the movie and its songs: no great art came from happiness. But the movie isn't sad, it's pulsing with life and music and incident and the process of how art is made. I have always been a sucker for movies about how art is made: Shakespeare in Love, Topsy Turvey, as examples, but in both those, art that was known. In Once, on the streets of Dublin, an Irishman and a Czech girl, remind us of how, to my generation, the guitar was king, a guitar, bass, drums and piano a symphony orchestra, and there was no power like the power of rock and roll. In all generations, love sought, found, lost, and sometimes regained is the stuff that brings us to the theater, to the book, to the movie.
I'm in the midst of reading a book by an Irishman, a detective novel, the hero a reader, and the author uses the book to list books he likes: from one...'the body moves on, the mind stays and circles the events of the past.' This must be true of the writer/director.
You won't forget these people. I can't forget their songs. We should all meet, my movie loving friends, and talk about this movie in a bar in Chicago I know that has great music on the jukebox, cold cold beer, and is dark enough so we would all look good. Neil Young sang: only love can break your heart, Once asks 'how often do you meet the right person', and as fellow movie goers I ask how often can the right movie be made, shown in your local, and break/make you heart at seven of a beautiful summer's eve? It's the best movie of the year. Maybe of the last five years. But, I am not a dispassionate critic, I loved it.
This is a wonderful, fun and touching movie. At a screening at Sundance
2007 the director described it as a musical, and it really is. The
primary actors are musicians and their songs tie the movie together and
tie you to them. Although the primary cast aren't actors as a first
profession, they are very natural together and the film flows very well
because of it. Everyone involved in this film has a great passion for
music, and it is very infectious. It is one of the few films I have
seen in 7 years at Sundance that received a standing ovation.
From the Sundance film guide: "A Dublin busker, who ekes out a living playing guitar and repairing vacuum cleaners for his dad's shop, meets a young Czech immigrant who sells roses on the same street. She likes his song, and what's more she has a broken vacuum cleaner! They soon find themselves playing music together in a nearby music store (since she can't afford a piano, the owner lets her play his floor models). Over the course of a week, they form a musical rapport and, newly inspired, decide to record an album.
Once may loosely be classified as a musical, but it has a refreshing vérité inflection. Conceived by director John Carney as a "video album," it sports a scrappy, unembellished naturalism. Carney took a risk in choosing professional musicians over professional actors, but Glen Hansard (of the well-known Irish band the Frames) and Marketa Irglova (a Czech singer/songwriter) are not only remarkably charming together but they're equally adept with the more melancholy shades (Hansard's lonely soul, stuck on an old flame; Irglova struggling to support a mother and daughter). Burdened and brokenhearted, their musical bond is the heart of the film and of their love.
Great music aside, what makes this film special is how little effort it seems to exert. If it's possible to be blindsided by simplicity--a light touch, Once does it." John Nein
I too saw this film at Sundance, and we were treated to a live
performance afterwards by the two main characters, who are actual
musicians and not actors.
I can't say enough good things about this film. It is bittersweet and romantic, with great music (not Irish music, but the singer/songwriter type) as the two main characters collaborate on their songs and help each other become stronger and face the romantic challenges they both are suffering from. The end of the film is wonderful and Hollywood-cliché-free! I hope this film gets the distribution it deserves, because I'm going to be telling everyone to see it.
Don't listen to the comments left on this page by idiots who don't get the film Once is a beautiful film, in my opinion the best Irish film ever but a great film overall. Made with an almost documentary realism on the streets of Dublin (this film shows how DV is not just a fad) this film is a modern day musical but the kind of musical where scangers eye up the camera, where musical numbers take place in dirty old music shops and flats. To me this film says something about Dublin , about immigration, about music but not in a worthy annoying "a Tigers tale" way. A masterpiece with great central performances and amazing music.
I have to say I loved this film. I went to see it with a Japanese
friend, and she loved it too.
So the plot wasn't full of 'save the world' ambitions and the good guy wasn't a millionaire playboy, but who cares? It was a gorgeous straightforward film about two people meeting at a certain time in their lives.
I read a quote recently about someone who'd seen the movie and came out wanting to hug everyone they met - and I totally agree. I cycled home humming the tunes and feeling like I haven't felt from a film since seeing 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'. I know, I know - totally different films - but the zen-like feeling after seeing them both...
From a Dublin dweller, it was fun to watch the geography, as the film makers played with the locations in that certain venues were on the same street - yet it looked like the actors had to walk through town to get to them. It definitely hindered the 'who do I know in the public street' shots moments! But was interesting, as helped make Dublin be a different city to what the residents would be used to.
My recommendation is to just go and see it if you're on for seeing something uncomplicated, feel-good without being too mushy, comedic moments that everyone can relate to and some singer-songwriter music thrown in.
I own a movie theater on Cape Cod and recently saw this film on two occasions at the New Directors Film Festival in NYC. I met John Carney ten years ago at the Golway Film Festival where I was part of a team which was reviewing film projects. John had a five minute clip of a feature he was working on "November Afternoon". I stayed in touch until he finished the film. He sent me a tape it just blew me away. "Once" like "November Afternoon" is a unique film experience. The low budget feel fits the story and the music blew me away. He captures a small slice of Dublin Life, spent the summer there in 69, that seems so real and honest. Glen and Marketa bring great strength to this story and a realism that is seldom seen in American Cinema. If you want to get in the mood for this movie then get a copy of Glen and Marketa CD "The Swell Season" five of the songs are in the movie.
After hearing about this movie while at Sundance, I was sad I wouldn't
get a chance to see it.
Luckily it's gotten distribution!!! I just saw an advance screening in LA, and it's a wonderful movie with strong performances by both the main characters who are terrific musicians.
If you've ever wondered if a movie could capture the true essence of performance, the awe of listening to something amazing and feeling it move you, it's here! This isn't a hackneyed musical with clichés, but a carefully captured story that feels more true than any other romance I've seen unfold.
Go see it!
At the persistent urging of a friend, I saw "Once".
Rarely am I compelled to write a comment about a movie, let alone yearning to see said movie again - immediately.
I have this sinking feeling that "Once" won't be around much longer in theaters (God knows, we need every available screen for "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry") so give yourself a treat: go see it!
Be warned...you may be so affected you'll buy the soundtrack, check out all the related YouTube videos and won't be able to get it out of your head.
As I've posted previously I don't really like musicals, never have,
generally waayyy too cheesy for my tastes. But in the absence of
something else that drew our attention we went to see Once. We were in
the Cinema anyway so why not. We went mostly, I suppose, as we'd seen
Glen Hansard and the Frames playing before and they were great so we
thought the movie couldn't be too bad. At the end of the day we both
really liked this movie, not too sentimental and the music which is
written and performed by the two main characters is excellent. It irks
me to see other Irish people in here with such negative views, it
really seems like its something personal towards Glen Hansard. I don't
know the guy whatsoever but this is about the film which is worth
I'd seen Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova live in Christchurch cathedral in Dublin which in itself was pretty different. I'd only been inside the cathedral once before pretty much as a tourist. During the gig he gave a solo performance which stands out in my mind as the best I've ever seen, just him and an acoustic guitar. I've seen A LOT of bands big and small so that is really saying something. If you get a chance go see them.
ONCE is a film to see and cherish for the magic of song and music
combined in the setting of Dublin for a young man and woman who meet
and who make wonderful music together. The only issue is she's married
to a bloke in another country. But that doesn't stop them for creating
a wonderful piece of music which will stay with them forever.
John Carney has directed and written a brilliant film which tags at your heart and makes your feet dance all at the same time. "Guy and Girl" are tremendous in their parts and the humor and passion they bring to their music. Dublin is such a great location for this film and it resembles London in so many of its blocks of buildings. The bond is also wonderful to see between father and son and the encouragement which the father gives his son.
ONCE gives you a time in your life when you meet your soul mate who brings the music to your heart you have always dreamed of...as well as a Hoover vacuum-"who knew?" See ONCE, because "once" you do, you may come back for more.
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