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This is not just another concert tour movie (although fans will find plenty to satisfy), but a many layered film about sudden notoriety, artistic passion and how the protagonists (Glen and Marketa , already known to us from the film Once and their music) handle it all. The Swell Season takes a unique approach to the music doc category, turning it around so that it feels like fiction, unfolding a narrative that traces the arc of a relationship. Often it offers glimpses (as in scenes with glen's parents] at what makes these two, glen especially, tick. The concert footage mostly avoids the long view of the stage and pans of the audience; instead, it stays inside the band, up close and personal. Last, but definitely not least, it is beautifully shot in burnished black and white.
Swell Season is a sensitive portrayal of the romantic and musical journey of two incredibly talented musicians. It is beautifully shot and I was emotionally engaged from beginning to end. I found myself deeply moved by the gradual disintegration of a relationship that spawned such beautiful harmony on stage. In our celebrity driven culture it is refreshing to see an honest portrayal of the costs of fame without pretension. For example, I was glad the academy award scenes were not over done. So many music documentaries only present idol worshiping fans and grandiose portrayals of the subjects as god/s. I found Swell Season to be a deeply truthful inquiry in this regard and in my opinion, this documentary has raised the bar for those that follow!
There's no doubt about the fact that the film is beautiful. It feels
like it's set in a never-ending autumn and moves with the quiet grace
that the two stars embody. However...
A previous reviewer mentioned that information seems to be missing, and I totally agree. There is much talk about the duo's Oscar win, and at one point Mar discusses how the two met, but there is no information on what happened in between so therefore I have no idea how "Once" came about.
The stuff that makes it on screen is lovely and effective. I just wish I'd gotten a bit more information.
First, full disclosure. I am friends with two of the filmmakers--Chris
Dapkins and Carlo Mirabella-Davis--and their parents. In fact, Chris
Dapkins grew up a mile and a half down the road, which in our part of
rural upstate New York made us the equivalent of next-door neighbors.
So I was prepared to like The Swell Season. But to be stunned by it?
Though I am no longer a fan of pop music, I sat absolutely riveted through every frame of this extraordinary story of two performers on tour in public and private. The choice of black and white photography was just right, and the filmmakers let their narrative unfold in a straightforward fashion without adornment or visual gimmicks.
I loved the music by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, and ached at the sad poignancy of their gradual breakup. Their doomed romance took me back to that brief but legendary love affair between Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in those younger days in the 1960s when I cared deeply about such public matters of the heart.
Ron Bailey, author and retired journalist
I think this is a good movie. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova show
their feelings and thoughts honestly in this film, and it was
interesting. Their personal stories and musics are really well
combined. I felt that real life is as hard as described in Once. But
both films are beautiful.
The only problem is that it was released with a title "Once Again" in Korea. I don't know why, maybe the distributing agency thought that is a cool name enough to attract many audiences who know about Once. Many people expected the film is the following up, and might feel deceived after watching it. The title "Once Again" is not suitable for the movie at all. If the movie kept its real title, that would have been better. It is very sad that some korean audiences were disappointed by the film because of its korean title. I think the korean agency should feel sorry about their stupid choice. "The Swell Season" itself is good enough.
This is a black and white documentary about Glen Hansard and Markéta
Irglová's world wind tour after the Oscars for "Once". I have to admit
that "Once" is one of my favorite movies. And in this film, we're given
a backstage pass into their lives. Only there's something wrong. It's
not the perfunctory concert movie. There seems to be a distance in the
much described love affair between the couple.
The first half goes on without much tension. It's a rather slow movie. But then we start to see some of the problems emerging. There are some insights into the pressure and tension building inside the relationship. It's not a happy watch by all means, and everybody should be aware of it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film nominally covers the duo's tour across the world and the US
after the Oscarwin during which we watch how the pair falls in and out
The film was shot in a moody black and white that looks great. The music is wonderful. The film itself is okay.
The trouble is it's clear that not everything that happened during the time frame covered by the film was recorded. There are time periods where there was no coverage and we have to go on references (there seems to be vast passage of time where Glen's dad dies, but we don't have any sense of it). It's also plain to see that Marketa Irglova didn't really want to be on camera so at times the film comes off as the Glen Hansard show.
It's not uninteresting but if you are a fan of the pair odds are you won't have any surprises. I liked the music but felt there was no point to it since there is nothing really new here.
The film is worth a look if you like the pair, but I would wait cable or Netflix. On the other hand the final number before the end credits of Glenn playing Say it to Me Now at Radio City Music Hall is almost a good enough reason on it's own to see this on a big screen (It's one of those this is why I go to the movie moments we get so rarely these days).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
then you may be interested in seeing this. I had not seen "Once" and
went to see this on a whim. It was a one-night-only engagement, and now
I know why - it doesn't have the legs to sustain interest among a
general audience. The only viewers who could possibly be interested in
this are those who saw the film "Once". If you have not seen that,
you'd best not bother seeing this. It is like watching the second half
of a film when you have missed the first part. Nothing shown here made
me care about either of the characters, both of whom I found
More surprising was the utter lack of significant talent exhibited by Glen Hansard. He was mostly shown screaming out tuneless ditties while furiously strumming his guitar like a maniac. What the heck is that about? The film seemed to mostly focus on him and his story, while Marketa's story and performances were secondary. A mistake, since she at least appears to be able to write a listenable tune.
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