Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Hugh Walsh, Bill Hodnett, Danuse Ktrestova
Director: John Carne
Release Date: 15 July 2006
Length: 85 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: DVD
“In this charming contemporary musical, a street musician (Glen Hansard) in Dublin strikes up a friendship with a migrant street hawker (Markéta Irglová), and the duo ends up composing and recording a series of songs over the course of a week that mirrors their burgeoning romance.” — Netflix.com
I remember watching the two stars, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová, perform on the 2008 Academy Awards show. They sang “Falling Slowly” and won the Best Original Song Oscar. At first, I was shocked that this film I never heard of beat out Disney’s Enchanted music. However, once I heard the song for myself, I was intrigued. I made a mental note that I wanted to see Once and promptly forgot about it for years. Then I had the opportunity to see Once the stage musical on tour and remembered that it was first an indie film. I fell in love with the music all over again and finally rented the movie that inspired it all.
I enjoyed Once, but I felt that the live musical was stronger and more fully realized. However, I definitely love that there is a permanent version I can watch whenever I want! The music is a showstopper in this movie. I loved “Falling Slowly,” but it is not the only great song in the movie – not by a long shot! I purchased the soundtrack and love listening to the music. There are upbeat, funny songs like “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy,” bittersweet love songs like “If You Want Me,” and anger-fueled songs like “Leave.” In short, there is the whole gamut of a romantic relationship portrayed in song. I loved the music more than anything else in the movie and feel that it is worth watching just to hear it!
The characters are likable and relatable. I had no idea that the two leads Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová were relatively inexperienced as actors in this movie. The film is shot in a way that makes it feel like a small indie film (which it was), which gave a feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the actors. Glen Hansard helped write the music and then was persuaded to act by taking over the lead role. Glen Hansard is unnamed in the movie and is referred to in the credits as “guy” meaning that he could be anyone or everyone around you. Guy has not recovered from his breakup with his girlfriend and is living with his father repairing vacuum cleaners. He spends his nights busking on the streets, playing his original music and watching life pass him by. Markéta Irglová plays Girl, a struggling immigrant who sells flowers on the streets and is thrilled to get a position cleaning a rich woman’s home. She is full of life and hope and her vibrancy draws Guy to her. The two never get together in a romantic way, though they definitely feel the attraction and I thought the ending was very interesting.
Whenever I see an underrated movie like Once, I think I should spend more time watching indie films. This movie is so charming and likable that I just don’t understand why it didn’t make more money. Sure, you can’t understand everything the characters say due to some heavy Irish accents. Yes, there is more singing than talking and no, the characters do not end up in a relationship together. None of these change the fact that Once is a delightful film that I will be sure to enjoy again in the future.
This movie contains some bad language, a lot of drinking and quite a bit of smoking. Extramarital pregnancies, separated spouses and cheating partners are part of the plot. Recommended for ages 16 and up.