Right, here’s TPB’s first joint review, because it’s apparently so fucking hard for one person to do it (joking, people!) so here’s Once- a film which is apparently “ Proof that chemistry and plot work better than big budget and effects every time.” which is nice to know…
Starring an Irishman who despite the similarities most definitely isn’t Damien Rice*, Once is the tale of a nameless Guy (Glen Hansard) and Girl (Marketa Irglovia) who meet whilst he is busking in Dublin, and discover that they share the same love of music (he the guitar, she the piano). The plot unfolds in a way that makes the viewer feel deeply connected to the story. Stylistically, the film is shot evoking a feeling of a natural story, happening in real life (the label ‘natural documentary style’, whilst technically not making sense, does seem to fit how close the audience feels to the story). The audience is almost made to feel as if the characters in this film are letting us in on their lives, imaginations, and feelings.
Both characters have relationship baggage, which they write into their songs, expressing their feelings. Obviously the music is central to the film, and rather than films which just happen to have a ‘good soundtrack’, in Once the music is almost another character, uniting Guy and Girl, and expressing itself throughout the film. The words and music are written by Hansard and Irglovia, and at no point do the songs feel forced and written by a large team of writers, which only add to the feeling of the film being a natural and genuine story, and return to the point that the viewer is witnessing something natural.
Despite the relatively short run time, quite a lot happens in the film. At points is simply cuts to the middle of a conversation, or an action, which enhances the films ‘diary feel’. It helps that the two leads are unknowns, and that the characters remain anonymous, as it could be a story about anybody, and this is not meant to be a criticism. You can watch (and listen) to this film again and again without tiring of it. Once is a nice, easy going, relaxing film, and you finish watching it with a smile and a sense that the sun is shining slightly brighter, even though it is rather difficult in these snow bound times!