Every now and again you see a film that makes you say, ‘How did I never see or hear about this film before?’ You’ve never heard of it, yet it is basically perfect in every way. A flawless film that has everything and is able to evoke pretty much every human emotion on this planet with a simple line of dialogue, a minute gesture or one strum of Glen Hansard’s majestic guitar. ‘Once’ is that film.
‘Once’ is a low budget semi-musical, which follows a street musician played by Glen Hansard, who meets an equally poor flower seller, who is also a musician of sorts. She is played by Hansard’s real life musical partner and on and off lover, Markéta Irglová, and the two hold their own brilliantly as actors. From the very first scene the film sucks us into their lives in very organic way, which is what sets the tone for the rest of the film.
As the story goes on, Hansard’s character, known only as ‘He’ is clearly falling for ‘Her’ and we see the two connect over their mutual love for music. Most of the moments we see are not your cliche, cheesy, over the top romantic scenes that a Hollywood romance will give you, but rather small, real life moments that we can all relate to. We see things that we can very easily believe, and for being small, seemingly insignificant moments we understand the real importance and power that they hold. That being said, the movies big moments come in the form of song, which is where the musical aspect of the film comes in. And boy does it come in.
The film is not a musical in the sense that people just break into song, like ‘Walking In The Rain’ or ‘Les Miserables.’ It’s music is real, as we see the musicians on the screen playing their songs as they would in real life, but the film weaves these into the story and make them part of the narrative flawlessly. The films signature song, ‘Falling Slowly,’ written by our stars themselves, is quite simply one of the best songs you will ever hear, and proved so by winning the Oscar for Best Original Song.
While that song is reason enough to watch this film, there are so many more reasons. The charm I’ve already mentioned is not to be confused with all smiles and laughs. The film is very real and does not take the predictable route at most junctions. It doesn’t pull any punches and it is honest in it’s story telling and realism. There is plenty of sadness and heartache to go with the happiness and romance. The interesting thing is that the music manages to find a combination of both at all times, and can essentially be taken however the viewer wishes, which only adds to the tone and subtle brilliance of the film.
For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, fan of musical or not, please check out this movie. Then when you’re done, get out their and check out the stars real music. The pair both have solo careers, but as a group they are known as ‘The Swell Season.’
Check out the trailer for ‘Once’ here.