I first heard about the movie while listening to this segment on my car radio, featuring one critic’s picks for the top 10 Most Overlooked films of 2007. They played a clip of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova singing “Falling Slowly” and even though the clip was barely 20 seconds long I thought it was really beautiful and added it to my Netflix later that day. Also our band leader Ryan emailed us later and told us how amazing it was, which only of course fed my anticipation of watching the film.
The story is incredibly simple: Irish street musician meets a Czech immigrant/pianist, they write and sing songs together and there’s a bit of a romance going on. Director John Carney used a long lens, so the whole film has the feel of a homemade documentary. I read somewhere later that the film was made on a shoestring budget of $160,000 after major producers pulled their funding when Cillian Murphy–originally the lead–backed out of the project. So they ended up casting Glen Hansard–lead singer/guitarist of the Irish band the Frames–who was writing the songs for the film anyway. I’m glad Cillian Murphy wasn’t it… Creepy Scarecrow from Batman or Psycho from Red Eye. No thanks, man.
I think the scene that seems to be the most memorable and popular among the critics and bloggers in the “Music Store Scene.” And with good reason. I think if you’ve ever sat down with another musician and shared your songs with each other and felt that immediate chemistry, like everything corresponds and fits instantly, that is the exact moment and experience that is captured in that scene. That’s pretty much only happened to me once, maybe twice.
Totally did not intend that pun by the way.
Anyway, just a warning… not everybody is going to like this film… This is for all you people that hate it when someone hypes up an independent movie (a la Garden State or Juno) and then you watch it and you’re disappointed and if it hadn’t been hyped up there’s a good chance you would’ve enjoyed it more…
I did like Juno, as a side note. But that may be a different blog.
There’s hardly any dialogue in Once–and where there is, it often consists of strong, hearty Irish (or Czech) f-bombs a plenty; however, music mainly carries the story along. I’m sure some people out there expecting popcorn fluff and special effects will find it boring, but I thought it was an amazing film with a lot of heart that felt really true to life.
The film’s two leads Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova recorded an album as a group called The Swell Season and it features a lot of the music from the film. The funny thing is the music is not necessarily intricate or technically impressive… they just play and sing and write with a lot of passion and poignancy and emotion.
My only regret is that I didn’t find about this earlier last year. Maybe then I could’ve caught them in their tour of the U.S. That’s what I get for eschewing the Enzian all summer long, right? Blast.
P.S. You can listen to an entire concert of them online here. They play a bunch of their songs and also a Van Morrison cover of Into the Mystic and Bob Dylan’s You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.