Don’t Miss ‘Once’

I was predisposed to like this little musical Irish love story because:

  • I have a soft spot for Dublin–I lived there for a couple of years.
  • I wrote a play set in Dublin about a couple of different nationalities falling in love.
  • I have heard and like The Frames, and the film features their singer Glen Hansard as one of the leads.
  • I’ve seen very few movies over the last six months, so my critical guard was probably down.

It’s a deceptively simple film. Here’s the plot summary from IMDB:

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

That’s about it. It’s not a musical in the traditional sense, in that the actors don’t randomly burst into song. All of the singing is entirely plausible in the course of the movie. The songs, mostly written by Hansard and performed by him and his co-star Markéta Irglová, are spare, passionate and uniformally terrific. I also appreciated that it’s an Irish movie about music with nary a feckin’ diddly-eye in sight.

There are so many things to like about this film. Hansard is charismatic and disarming. It takes a genuine, contemporary look at the city and its people. It doesn’t make any easy plot choices.

If you haven’t, go see it. I know that it’s been out for a while, but I’m not sure how wide its distribution is in Canada–I just saw it in Toronto. But don’t take my word for it–the professional critics really, really liked it.

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