An unnamed guy is a Dublin guitarist/singer/songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad's Hoover repair shop by day, and singing and playing for money on the Dublin streets by night. An unnamed girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance, and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her Mom and her daughter by night. Guy meets girl and they get to know each other as the girl helps the guy put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. During the same several day period, the guy and the girl work through their past loves, and reveal their budding love for one another, through their songs.Written by
Film prints have a few things at the beginning and end missing from the Fox DVD. After the Fox Searchlight logo and before the text-only company credits, the prints have a short silent logo for Summit Entertainment and then one for the Irish film board. At the end of the movie, once the credits crawl finishes, prints also have a short Fox Searchlight text-only card (containing the text "in association with" with no followup), a short card with a gigantic MPAA logo and number, and the blue R-rating screen. See more »
Once is about a young Irish busker with a torn guitar and a raft of achingly felt songs about a girlfriend he lost the year before. He works in Dublin at his dad's Hoover Repair Centre. One day as he's playing on the street a Czech woman who sells roses and cleans houses comes up and starts to talk to him. She's somewhat cool but she's also disarmingly honest. The dialogue seems understated, offhand, but the words seem to come from the heart. She plays the piano (and later reveals she's written some songs herself) and they get together to make music. Both are suffering from love affairs that went wrong. He longs for her but she keeps her distance. The simplicity of the acting makes the characters seem real, like everything else in the movie. It doesn't try too hard. It trusts its material, and it works.
The recording session they wangle with a group of other buskers (two guitarists and a youthful drummer) is a metaphor for this whole film. These people know nothing about recording, but they've got good material and the initially skeptical engineer winds up acknowledging that they've made a beautiful thing.
Once's transitions are a little awkward sometimes and its images aren't fancy, but the story moves you without having any sentimental payoffs. Kitchen sink film-making: it works if you believe in what you're doing. And have something to work with. The core of Once is the music. It's what they have to work with. The studio recording session has the good feel of things coming together: it's so strong and uncalculated-feeling, it makes the studio scene in Craig Brewer's Hustle and Flow look self-conscious. In Once the sound of the music speaks without special need for dialogue or close-ups. The real love story of Once is the love of musicians playing together. Few movies perhaps have captured any better that warmth and pleasure of making music with others.
People have said this is a musical. If so, it redefines the musical as some American musicals have done recently, especially Spring Awakening and Passing Strange. What makes the idea fly is that it's as if the young man and the young woman can't express what they feel for each other, and the only way they can get their emotions across is to burst into song. But the songs are their songs, not some composer's. It's all perfectly organic.
Perfection, it turns out, doesn't have to be perfect.
Starring Glen Hansard of The Frames and Marketa Irglova.
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