, 14 Oct 2007
Guy (Hansard) meets Girl (Irglova). Hes a busker who fixes hoovers on the side. She sells flowers, plays piano, and has a broken hoover. They start making music together, become friends and, maybe, more?
If youve got a first date coming up then you should take the object of your affection to see Once. If they are so stony hearted that they dont warm to this utterly charming romantic musical then theres no need for a second date.
Originally John Carneys film was going to be rather different. Glen Hansard of Dublin band The Frames (in which Carney used to play) had been drafted to write the songs and Cillian Murphy had been cast opposite Irglova. With weeks remaining before shooting Murphy dropped out and Hansard, after much cajoling, took the role himself. Its difficult to imagine the movie any other way now.
Hansard and Irglova are obviously comfortable with one another (the two had been playing music together and Hansard had recommended Irglova for the part), which allows both to give utterly natural performances and their dialogue to have an easy flow about it, in short to make the conversations seem like they arent scripted but merely observed. Both create very full characters in quite short order and its impossible not to fall a bit in love with them. This is certainly helped along by Hansards glorious songs. The first time Guy and Girl sing together (on Falling Slowly, the opening lines of which I dont know you / but I want you / all the more for that, neatly encapsulate the movie) there is a palpable chemistry, a charge which then powers the whole movie.
The other songs range from the comic (Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy) to the heartfelt (When Your Minds Made Up and achingly lovely Irglova solo If You Want Me) and all are beautifully played and sung with much of the music feeling like it is recorded live.
It is impossible not to warm to and root for these people, be it for their songs to be successful or simply for them to get together despite obstacles like Girls estranged huband, who shes left in the Czech republic and Guys plans to go to London. The indelible romantic moment comes after a motorcycle ride when Guy asks how to say, Do you love him? in Czech. When he asks his answer comes back in Czech, untranslated in the film. Its a wonderfully ambiguous moment and one that leaves (most) audiences free to come to their own conclusion.
This is not your typical movie romance. It may end at the airport but theres no big chase no pat ending. Its more downbeat, but more real and much more affecting. Once is a wonderful film and one that deserves a wide audience
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