A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.
In the early 90's, Carney left his rock group, The Frames, to pursue a career in film-making. The Frames continued on without him and new lead singer, Glen Hansard, eventually took leave to search out new musical ventures, moving from Dublin to the Czech Republic. Here he met Marketa Irglova, a classically trained pianist, and they developed a project entitled The Swell Season. Though the two are not linked romantically, their meeting and the music that came out of that became Carney's inspiration for ONCE. During the week that follows their initial meeting on the street, the two artists who are never referred to by name in the film, learn to accept that they are inexplicably drawn to each other. Given the chance, a relationship between the two could become one that would help each other grow. He would make a great father figure to her young child and she would drive him to make something of himself. Though ONCE's tone is simple, these two characters' lives are not. He has a girlfriend in London he longs to be with but feels he cannot out of obligation to his father in Dublin, while she is still married to an estranged husband whom she is unsure she has a future with. The trick then becomes to remain in the moment with each other and never allow for their relationship to go where it naturally feels it should.
Albeit a modern approach to a movie musical, ONCE is not so modern that it leaves the music behind. Instead the music becomes the catalyst for love. She is first drawn to him by the sound of his song. He sings it with such passion that it gives her a direct view of his soul. It is not all who are able to show such vulnerability yet when the song ends, he trips over his spoken words and nothing comes out as it should. At first, she almost seems a nuisance to him. It isn't until he hears the beautiful music she can make with her hands that the glimpse of her soul captures all his attention. Theirs is a mating ritual carried out in song. When one sings or plays, the other listens. When one cannot express the proper sentiment in words, it is music that gets the point across. When the two find themselves alone in a local musical instrument shop, they learn what it means to sing together. In order to do so, they must truly listen to the sound of the other's voice and fall into the same pace and rhythm of their notes. Their voices, as it turns out, are the perfect compliment to each other. The harmony they create leads into a song that is itself a representation of the love between them, both fragile and pure.
The delicate chemistry between Hansard and Irglova is framed in such a stripped fashion that it only further serves to concretize the genuine sincerity between the two. Almost entirely hand held and lit only with natural light, ONCE seems less like intricate film-making and more like layered storytelling, or perhaps more appropriately, song writing. Put simply, ONCE is like a perfectly soft song played acoustically in a park; it seeps into your soul, soothing you as the sun beats down upon your smiling face, allowing for all cynicism to melt away while your reaffirmed belief in love is sung from your mouth.
- Jun 3, 2007