Directed by John Carney.
Written by John Carney.
Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 6/21/07
Not unlike my experience watching
Flow", "Once" gives you a decent, simple character story based
around a very strong musical product, one that makes you bob the
head a little bit while sitting in a crowded theater even if slower
rock ballads aren't your thing (i.e., me).
The Irish film really only follows two
characters--a street musician/vacuum cleaner repairman (Glen Hansard)
and a Czech piano player/mother of one/flower girl (Markéta Irglová)
as they collaborate over their music and a newfound friendship.
How simple is this movie? I don't think that writer/director
John Carney gives any of the characters in the movie except for the
flower girl's kid a screen name! How simple is this movie?
It looks like it was shot on low, low-def cameras in a number of
uncut master shots all over an unnamed Irish location (although, one
guesses that it's supposed to be Dublin).
But, this simple-ness is what makes "Once"
so great. Its purely uncomplicated setup means that we get to
concentrate on just the two plot points of the movie--learning about
the past of both leads through their
sometimes-emotionally-layered-and-painful songs, and watching to see
if their friendship will turn a corner and become a romantic
pairing. I'll admit that I didn't love the look of the film,
but otherwise, I thought that "Once" was great. The three or
four songs that are fleshed out in full were all great; it helps
that the two actors are musicians in real life (Hansard is a member
of an Irish band I had not heard of before; director Carney was
formerly a member of the band; Irglová has collaborated with Hansard
in the past) but the songs are quite strong. Irglová and
Hansard are serviceable actors, and because their friendship is more
cute and playful, almost flirty--as opposed to sensual, almost
sexual, hot-and-heavy combatants--it allows them to essentially play
themselves throughout the course of the film.
The film keeps its running time short, which
works for this material because the script is so fluffy and there is
literally no support from side characters. Because the scenery
and the sets are sparse, moments like a walk on the beach at sunrise
one morning are even more effective than usual because you are so
amazed by how beautiful a simple break of sun through the clouds can
be while playing frisbee on the beach one morning.
"Once" doesn't try to go outside the box,
and as a music-driven film it works. Not to say that it is
making me forget other great music-based films, but as it is, "Once"
delivers the goods. Now I need to get my hands on that
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard