Once

Dir/Wri: John Carney. 2006. Starring: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova. English. Romance, Comedy, Musical.
Once

Once is a love story masquerading as a musical disguised as a documentary. It is pure bliss from start to finish. Two lost souls find one another through music and then nudge each other back into life. I never once thought about the budget (which was tiny) or the acting (by 2 musicians) or even the director (who is amazing because he is completely invisible). From the opening scene where one of our heroes is unabashedly singing out his broken heart to its counterpoint towards the end where the other quietly lets out her own, I was snugly fitted into the camera lens that follows, captures and reveals them at tender, quiet, and charmingly awkward moments.

The movie is 60 percent music but it doesn't feel like a musical. It feels like a movie with a really good soundtrack. Better than any montage, each song is laden with romantic reminiscence and searching allowing us to stretch closer to the characters . This leaves enough mystery, enabling the story to unfold without compromise. If you hate the singer/songwriter Once might not be for you. But if you have an ounce of sentiment and a dash of a want-to-be-musician jones this is it.

Once is pure fiction but it plays like a PBS reality series full of humanity, minus the exploitation of Blind Date. There is nothing false about the acting or the camera shots which keep us at a distance and then bring us confidentially close. It's hard to be uncomfortable around our Guy and Girl because, as lost as they may be, they are not children prone to violence or neurotics prone to inertia. Guy and Girl are two adults who are a little sad and off the path. What is remarkable is witnessing how easy it is to stay there, being kind and responsible but hidden, missing out on all of one's potential. It is a huge leap when you mark the steps leading back.

________________

Once won for an Oscar for Best Original Song.

Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Jan 16, 2008 5:28pm
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