Once (2007) Poster

(2007)

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9/10
Music Music Music Music
papaska24 January 2007
This is a wonderful, fun and touching movie. At a screening at Sundance 2007 the director described it as a musical, and it really is. The primary actors are musicians and their songs tie the movie together and tie you to them. Although the primary cast aren't actors as a first profession, they are very natural together and the film flows very well because of it. Everyone involved in this film has a great passion for music, and it is very infectious. It is one of the few films I have seen in 7 years at Sundance that received a standing ovation.

From the Sundance film guide: "A Dublin busker, who ekes out a living playing guitar and repairing vacuum cleaners for his dad's shop, meets a young Czech immigrant who sells roses on the same street. She likes his song, and what's more…she has a broken vacuum cleaner! They soon find themselves playing music together in a nearby music store (since she can't afford a piano, the owner lets her play his floor models). Over the course of a week, they form a musical rapport and, newly inspired, decide to record an album.

Once may loosely be classified as a musical, but it has a refreshing vérité inflection. Conceived by director John Carney as a "video album," it sports a scrappy, unembellished naturalism. Carney took a risk in choosing professional musicians over professional actors, but Glen Hansard (of the well-known Irish band the Frames) and Marketa Irglova (a Czech singer/songwriter) are not only remarkably charming together but they're equally adept with the more melancholy shades (Hansard's lonely soul, stuck on an old flame; Irglova struggling to support a mother and daughter). Burdened and brokenhearted, their musical bond is the heart of the film and of their love.

Great music aside, what makes this film special is how little effort it seems to exert. If it's possible to be blindsided by simplicity--a light touch, Once does it." — John Nein
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10/10
The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing about
mjjusa-19 June 2007
I write these for friends and if you love movies you are a friend: I saw a movie last night that was so good that I have spent the last hour looking up information about it on the Internet Movie Data Base and related links. I have included the Fox Searchlight website for the movie at the bottom of this review so you can hear the music. So now I know that is was made in 17 days and at a cost of less than $150K and reflects a Dublin of 10-15 years ago when Dublin was much poorer and more working class.

And, I would be much poorer in life and spirit, and my heart, like most of us, covered in scar tissue from life, would not seem so vulnerable and new, if I had not seen this movie. A simple story of a street musician in Ireland, singing covers during the day for Euros, and his own music at night for cents. A verging on middle aged man, still living with his Da, repairing vacuums in a tiny shop and writing songs to his lost love in his tinier bedroom. Approached by girl, an immigrant, who loves his songs, understands the pain that gave them life, and soon they are in a music shop with the girl playing the piano and together they prove that art isn't produced from big budgets or green lit by ten vice presidents and that seventeen days and a pittance can make me get goose bumps just trying to write a review of what I saw in a dark theater with ten other people in a complex dominated by Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman.

I knew a woman once who only read novels about unrequited love. What a wonderful phrase: unrequited love. Archaic, unrequited, love, universally known and unknown, and as a friend said about the movie and its songs: no great art came from happiness. But the movie isn't sad, it's pulsing with life and music and incident and the process of how art is made. I have always been a sucker for movies about how art is made: Shakespeare in Love, Topsy Turvey, as examples, but in both those, art that was known. In Once, on the streets of Dublin, an Irishman and a Czech girl, remind us of how, to my generation, the guitar was king, a guitar, bass, drums and piano a symphony orchestra, and there was no power like the power of rock and roll. In all generations, love sought, found, lost, and sometimes regained is the stuff that brings us to the theater, to the book, to the movie.

I'm in the midst of reading a book by an Irishman, a detective novel, the hero a reader, and the author uses the book to list books he likes: from one...'the body moves on, the mind stays and circles the events of the past.' This must be true of the writer/director.

You won't forget these people. I can't forget their songs. We should all meet, my movie loving friends, and talk about this movie in a bar in Chicago I know that has great music on the jukebox, cold cold beer, and is dark enough so we would all look good. Neil Young sang: only love can break your heart, Once asks 'how often do you meet the right person', and as fellow movie goers I ask how often can the right movie be made, shown in your local, and break/make you heart at seven of a beautiful summer's eve? It's the best movie of the year. Maybe of the last five years. But, I am not a dispassionate critic, I loved it.
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10/10
A must see film!
bzimmer-126 January 2007
I too saw this film at Sundance, and we were treated to a live performance afterwards by the two main characters, who are actual musicians and not actors.

I can't say enough good things about this film. It is bittersweet and romantic, with great music (not Irish music, but the singer/songwriter type) as the two main characters collaborate on their songs and help each other become stronger and face the romantic challenges they both are suffering from. The end of the film is wonderful and Hollywood-cliché-free! I hope this film gets the distribution it deserves, because I'm going to be telling everyone to see it.
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8/10
The moment all artists live for.
daveygandthekeyboard23 June 2007
Probably the one thing I would say about this movie that is even remotely negative, is that if you don't like the music, then you are completely out of luck. Otherwise… This movie is about a Guy (no name) and a Girl (same deal) who meet on the street while Guy is busking, a side gig from his day job as a vacuum cleaner repairman. The two form a bond through music, as they jam together in a music store, then ultimately they go through a weekend recording his songs before he goes off to re-unite with his lost love. Trying to explain this movie to someone who hasn't seen it, it just seems like a movie about nothing, 'cause the plot is so spare. But everything felt true--the dialogue, the way the two musicians relate, the way it captured the feeling you get when you see something you've created become real. This movie totally won me over after the recording session, when it is early in the morning, the studio technician and the band go out to do the "car test"--seeing if the songs still sound good on inferior speakers. It is at this point you feel this "seizing of the sword" moment of triumph for Guy--this is what he has worked for, this is what he has created. It is a moment that all artists live for, and this is the reason I will go see it again.
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10/10
What a lovely film!
delphine09014 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes I can see why someone would "hate" a film that I love. This time I just don't see why anyone would dislike this film.

It's a simple, unpretentious, lovely film. I've recommended it to several people (male and female) and they've all loved it.

The soundtrack's lyrics hint at a very different film, with more of the predictable sex/possessiveness/anger/painful character arc thing that we usually see, and perhaps people are missing when they criticize this film.

I found it refreshing NOT to see those things, to know perhaps that a decision is wrenching but without the melodrama. And even more refreshing is a script that never once beats us on the head with information, but lets us "hear" the characters not only in the songs (in fact the lyrics are not "on the nose" as they generally are in musicals but instead simply add nuance, flavoring the script) but in what they don't say, and in the choices they make without exposition and explanation.

I didn't notice any of the technical flaws people have mentioned. Any lack of "polish" in the camera work only added a hint of realism to me, as if it were my eyes instead of the camera watching this vignette, as a warmly invited guest. Little time is spent showing us unnecessary views of the city, or vistas to long after. It could be anywhere in the world, because the world is reduced, for a few days, to what's important to these two people, and we fall for them as they fall for one another.

The film does have an ending, it's not left up in the air (contrary to some comments here) - but it may not be the one everyone wishes for, or has been conditioned to expect.

More than one person, including folks commenting here, have said the same thing: What a lovely film . . .
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9/10
Excellent, gorgeous story
Lisa Daly26 April 2007
I have to say I loved this film. I went to see it with a Japanese friend, and she loved it too.

So the plot wasn't full of 'save the world' ambitions and the good guy wasn't a millionaire playboy, but who cares? It was a gorgeous straightforward film about two people meeting at a certain time in their lives.

I read a quote recently about someone who'd seen the movie and came out wanting to hug everyone they met - and I totally agree. I cycled home humming the tunes and feeling like I haven't felt from a film since seeing 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'. I know, I know - totally different films - but the zen-like feeling after seeing them both...

From a Dublin dweller, it was fun to watch the geography, as the film makers played with the locations in that certain venues were on the same street - yet it looked like the actors had to walk through town to get to them. It definitely hindered the 'who do I know in the public street' shots moments! But was interesting, as helped make Dublin be a different city to what the residents would be used to.

My recommendation is to just go and see it if you're on for seeing something uncomplicated, feel-good without being too mushy, comedic moments that everyone can relate to and some singer-songwriter music thrown in.
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9/10
And so it happened once ...
Joseph Belanger3 June 2007
From the moment ONCE begins, it is clear that the experience about to be had is unlike any you've had before. A busker sings for his dollar in the street. The quality of the image is grainy; the steadiness of the camera is shaky at best. The day turns into night and the song goes from bright to dark. The passion with which it is sung is almost overwhelming and suddenly borders on off putting. From the manner in which the busker is framed, it isn't clear whether anyone is there to hear his song but his fervor brushes skepticism aside and declares that the song itself and the satisfaction derived from singing it, outweigh the importance of having someone hear it. But someone is listening after all. A young woman from the Czech Republic stands transfixed before our busker on this Dublin street and a spark ignites the flame that gives ONCE its warmth. Writer/Director, John Carney, removes all convention from the movie musical and creates a film that reads like a well-written love song about two musicians falling in love with each other and the music they create together.

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.
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9/10
see ONCE twice
mattman500027 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If the original lead actor (Cillian Murphy) hadn't dropped out at the last minute this movie probably would have felt extremely melodramatic and clichéd, but Hansard's spot-on authentic portrayal is amazing mostly due in part to the fact that he isn't really acting but playing himself. There is also a beautiful scene involving the lead actress trying to write the lyrics to one of his songs as she is walking home from a convenience store that illustrates the creative process on a realistic level that I have never really seen done before on film. Amazing that this film was made for $150,000. The fact that they didn't have a lot of money actually, in my opinion, helps make the film that much better. There are elements of naturalism and realism working in this film on levels that are sorely missed in today's mainstream cinema. Anyone who loves music and/or learning about the creative process of writing will thoroughly enjoy this small gem of a film. The well-written script also surprisingly manages to NOT take the predictable road one might expect when making a film of this nature, which is an extremely tough task to begin with. You'll know what I'm talking about after you see it.
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10/10
A Wonderful Little Film
tjunderwood31 July 2007
At the persistent urging of a friend, I saw "Once".

Rarely am I compelled to write a comment about a movie, let alone yearning to see said movie again - immediately.

I have this sinking feeling that "Once" won't be around much longer in theaters (God knows, we need every available screen for "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry") so give yourself a treat: go see it!

Be warned...you may be so affected you'll buy the soundtrack, check out all the related YouTube videos and won't be able to get it out of your head.

Inspired, magical.
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10/10
The best Irish film ever
Termin811 April 2007
Don't listen to the comments left on this page by idiots who don't get the film Once is a beautiful film, in my opinion the best Irish film ever but a great film overall. Made with an almost documentary realism on the streets of Dublin (this film shows how DV is not just a fad) this film is a modern day musical but the kind of musical where scangers eye up the camera, where musical numbers take place in dirty old music shops and flats. To me this film says something about Dublin , about immigration, about music but not in a worthy annoying "a Tigers tale" way. A masterpiece with great central performances and amazing music.
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