An unnamed guy is a Dublin street guitarist and singer-songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad’s Hoover repair shop by day. At night, he heads for the streets to sing and play for the money strangers give him in Dublin. An unnamed girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night. Guy meets girl and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. During the same several day period, the guy and girl work through their past loves and reveal their budding but disconnected love for one another through their songs.

Rating: 8 out of 10

This is a musical like no other. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it has characters we can relate to — as opposed to the ones who break out into highly detailed choreography in the streets with bakers, butchers, nuns, and anyone else around who join in.

Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals. But this one stands out for its heart-breaking story and realistic characters who seem so much more real through the hand-held lens. They have awkward moments, real chemistry, and a love that will never connect. They also make beautiful music together.

The film is about 60 percent music, mostly acoustic-based folk/pop, but it’s entirely enchanting and emotional.  I found myself completely engrossed in this very simple film. It’s a heart-breaker, but one I love. We’ve all had that person we want so bad, but can never have.


6 responses to “Once

  1. Hey Matt,

    Just stumbling this afternoon and needing to get away from the computer, but thought I’d chime in about ‘Once’. I agree with most of your review, though must say the camera work or lack thereof was more distracting than beneficial – I’m pretty tired of the overused excuse of ‘we wanted to add to the scene by shaking the hell out of the camera’ which seems hardly warranted in what for all intent and purposes is a romantic comedy. I did find the end of the film disappointing, yet I understand why the filmmakers chose this route. Not sure I’d classify Once as a musical, perhaps better described as a film where music is as much a part of theme as a character in its own right – but I see your point. This is very much an independent film and as such often suffers, ever so slightly, with dialog heavy scenes and limited locations yet remains interesting because of the obvious on-screen chemistry between the couple. I’d recommend this film to anyone.

    • I would agree with you that handheld is overused. However, this move was shot by a two-person crew on a micro-budget, and I think success of the film is in credit to the compelling nature of the story and music. It overcame its production value (which didn’t bother me at all). It’s definitely a musical, though it’s just a modern version of one. The majority of the film, and it’s focus, are on the music. This musical is fortunate enough to have an excellent story.

  2. I loved this movie. Great performances from the two leads, and amazing to think it was shot in just 17 days. I watched it with my girlfriend and we were holding hands by the end. Definite feel good movie.

  3. Awesome. Thanks. We’ll add you to our blog roll.

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