Every so often, whether you are a champion procrastinator like me or an avid fan of a well known search engine, you will stumble into an article or a feature detailing someone's favourite films. You may find if you look closer a top ten list of unknown or hidden gems in cinema on top of that. In fact if you search in the correct places you may even find the ever illusive chicken wearing a fez, riding a unicycle video. But that is a different story for a different day altogether. Back onto point, during such searches I came across the film 'Once'. Now at that time three years ago, I had never heard of the film. Had not heard of the plot, not heard of the director and hadn't heard of the cast before. But that all change once I had managed to track down the film and view it...
Once is a small low budget picture, set in Dublin, and is essentially the story of the coming together of two individuals. Those two individuals being Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, playing the appropriately named 'Guy' and 'Girl'. I will leave it up to the reader to decide who is who. To continue, these two individuals come together over their love of music. Earlier I had to refrain myself from describing the film as a romantic piece, because ultimately it is more of a musical. In fact to be honest I may be wrong in saying that. As it may be more of an amalgamation of musical and love story, but a musical love story that doesn't necessary take the particular route a viewer may have first envisioned. When the word musical is mentioned, everybody has their own interpretations for what a musical is or should be. Some people think of thick black hair and ducktails, some people may picture the streets of Manhattan and others may think of the vibrant and colourful Cherbourg. Once doesn't follow a musical template established before it, it is itself its own unique being. Indeed, there are performances but there is no choreograph in site. The film takes a natural almost voyeuristic approach to capturing the music. The beginning of the film reflects this straight away, as the audience are shown Glen Hansard busking in the streets before belting out a powerful song with his guitar at night setting the story in motion. It is truly something quite special to behold.
Both Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová have said that they are musicians first and foremost. However I think they are being incredibly modest with their words. Director John Carney had the tough decision to make when casting the leads. Would he go for outstanding actors that were weak singers? Or would he go for strong singers that were limp actors? In the end John Carney got neither. What he got in the end was something quite fantastic. He got a special pair of musicians, but he also got a special pair of actors. Both Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová have since said they have they have no real continued interest in acting in the future, but that is perfectly okay, as we were privileged enough to be given Once as a gift.
Everyone should give Once a try. I keep repeating myself hear, but Once is a special, special film. A film with a great deal of heart; it is something which we often don't get to see coming out of the multimillion pound monolithic Hollywood conveyor belt. Both the DVD and the Blu-Ray have fallen nicely into the affordable blind buy category for many. So don't hesitate if you see the cover stare you in the face online, or in the high street to pick it up and make a purchase. It is a film that should be seen, even if it is only Once....
Once in a while, a film comes along that restores your faith in movies. In a time when Hollywood budgets are often substantial enough to feed a small country for a year, this softly spoken small-budget soon-to-be-cult-classic starring The Frames' Glen Hansard and young Czech singer songwriter Marketa Irglova documents a story that has been told a thousand times before- that of two lost souls who find themselves falling in love. What sets John Carney's Once apart from any other love story is its practically perfect soundtrack, sang y the lead characters, its authentic portrayal of Dublin and the growing relationship between the two lead characters who frustratingly struggle with their feelings in the face of complications with past and current partners. Although both inexperienced actors, Hansard and Irglova produce such convincing emotion and genuinely touching moments that it almost feels like you are watching a documentary of a couple's private and most treasured memories. Irglova produces a simple, yet, at times, agonisingly and intensely complicated character, while Hansard's down-on-his-luck yet lovable and real Guy wins you over from the first scene. The real-life couples' natural and understated performances contribute to the film"s quiet beauty and thankfully it doesn"t just become a film with a sole aim of boosting the two singers' careers. The movie is not perfect- the relationship between Girl and her mother appears contrived at times- however the film is so full of poignant and beautiful moments that more than make for this. Such heartwarming moments include Hansard's musical description of the demise of his last relationship and the image of Irglova's character in gentle pursuit of Guy through the streets of Dublin- and all with a vaccuum cleaner in tow.
One of the best films to come out of Ireland in a long time, this is a must-see.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Inspirational drama about two kindred spirits who find each other on the bustling streets of Dublin. One (Glen Hansard) is a street musician who lacks the confidence to perform his own songs. The other is a young mother (Marketa Irglova) trying to find her way in a strange new town. As their lives intertwine, they discover each other's talents and push one another to realise what each had only dreamt about before. Actors: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Hugh Walsh, Gerard Hendrick, Alaistair FoleyDirectors: John CarneyWriters: John CarneyProducers: David Collins, Martina NilandLanguage: EnglishSubtitles: EnglishSubtitles For The Hearing Impaired: EnglishNumber of discs: 1