Film Review: Once
If you've driven by the Uptown Theater lately, you've probably seen the billboard advertising the "Irish indie-pop musical" Once. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't generally get too jazzed about musicals. There's something about people spontaneously bursting into song that makes me uncomfortable. Besides, the very idea of an "indie-pop" musical seems counterintuitive. Most musicals that I've seen are lush, grandiose affairs. Whether it's the sophisticated Parisian stomp of "Moulin Rouge" or the chic film noir of "Chicago," popular musicals in the last decade have lacked neither scope nor ambition. But Once, which lacks both sweep and visual splendor, manages to thrive on its huge heart.
The story is simple enough: a lovelorn and lonely Dublin busker strikes up a friendship with a similarly lovelorn, lonely (and gorgeous) Czech immigrant, Markéta Irglová. Over the course of a few weeks, the two forge a musical and emotional bond. Markéta urges the "busker" to record and polish his songs, and slowly they fall in love. The "busker" is unnamed in the film, but he's played by Frames' head honcho Glen Hansard. Hansard's songs propel the narrative, and his beautiful little acoustic slices of emotion match up perfectly with director John Carney's off-kilter direction. It's a charming love story in a charming country's most charming city, a grainy snapshot of the creative force of love told with whimsy and warmth. At a breezy 85 minutes, it doesn't last long, but it's well worth your time.
Here's the trailer: