Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Once is an Irish film, an ode to unrequited love.

We find our guy standing on a street in Dublin, singing his heart out and playing guitar as a busker, for whatever change he can get. He meets our girl (Marketa Irglova) when she hears his song and tosses a coin into his hat. The story explores their relationship with each other, with their previous relationships as background, in his attempt to professionally record his tunes.

We never meet the woman who leaves our guy, played with great charm and profiency by Glen Hansard (of the Irish band Frames), but we certainly hear about her in the songs he sings. Music not only pervades the movie, it is the movie, punctuated only by some small moments of dialogue and action. Thankfully the music is really good. It had better be, because most songs are played all the way through with little action. There is one brilliant sequence, however, where the girl is trying to write lyrics to one of his songs. She runs out of batteries on the borrowed CD player, runs down to the corner store to pick up some more batteries, plugs them in, and goes back to singing the lyrics to his guitar, all as she walks down the street back to her apartment.

It's a simple title, alluding to the one time, that one chance, you meet the person you were meant to be with. And the story is simple, although continuously not taking the path you expect. The acting is raw, the singing is as much, and very appealing. And I guarantee you the songs and the story will stay with you after the credits have run their due.

Richard Roeper, of Ebert and Roeper, said that Once was one of his top 10 films for 2007. I wouldn't rate it that highly, but it is a nice little film that does some things you've never seen before.

Thumb's up.


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