Monday, May 19, 2008


Once Poster
Originally uploaded by NYCviaRachel
When I walked into Once for the first time I was skeptical; I had read a review calling it a kitchen-sink* musical and I did not think that could exist. For all intents and purposes these are two entirely seprate genres and should not be able to overlap; yet they do overlap and remarkably well I might add. Once breaks Hollywood conventions in many ways, and uses this to create a very real, relatable movie even though it is a musical, something that by definition should not be “real”.

The main characters in Once are real-life musicians Marketa Irglova & Glen Hansard (of The Frames), just as in the movie she is Czech and he is Irish and they wrote the music for the film together. In the film Marketa and Glen are never given names, but referred to in the credits as Guy & Girl. Their story is simple: they meet, fall in love but never do anything because she is married and he is pining for the girl that got away and then finally when the only intimacy they haven’t shared is physical they break it off and each move back into the correct direction for their lives: Guy to England to get the girl that got away and pursue his music and Girl with her family and blissfully happy with the last gift Guy gave her – an upright piano.

Once is billed as a love story, but in actually it is not Guy & Girl’s affection for each other that drives the film; what drives the film is their love of music. They are two individuals that find each other at the perfect time and push the other further into their music.

The first time Guy & Girl meet the only time Guy is comfortable playing his own songs on the street is when it’s night and fewer people are out, and those that are out aren’t paying attention to him; Girl appears seemingly out of nowhere and demands to know why he doesn’t play these songs more. She is persistant and demanding and exactly what Guy doesn’t want – someone who wants to know more about him. From there their relationship grows as she persistently shows up the next day demanding that she fix her vacuum, and before doing so he finally discovers her musical talent: piano.

However, Girl is an immigrant from the Czech Republic and is so poor that she does not have her own piano any longer, but has made a deal with a music shop owner that she can come in and play for an hour a day; thus, girl takes guy to the shop and plays for him and together the couple plays their first duet and their relationship becomes real for the first time as his suspicion of her completely evaporates. They have begun to share their souls through music and Guy again has a muse. They continue to work together, Guy giving her assignments to write lyrics for his music and Girl reprimanding Guy for not trying to get a recording deal until Guy finally jumps over the precise and decides to make a real demo with Girl’s help.

This movie is one of the most touching, inspirational films that I have ever seen. It is pure, innocent and passionate and is the kind of movie that Hollywood appreciates but has trouble making. Once was one of my favorite films of last year and it did win one Oscar (though it deserved more) for Falling Slowly as Best Original Song.

No one that I have met has regretted seeing this movie. I highly recommend it.

Writer & Director: John Carney
Guy: Glen Hansard
Girl: Marketa Irglova

Guy: During the daytime people would want to hear songs that they know, just songs that they recognize. I play these song at night or I wouldn't make any money. People wouldn't listen.
Girl: I listen.

*Kitchen Sink Realism: A film movement in Brittan in the 1950’s; realism films that depicted the poor & working class. The films took on the name Kitchen Sink realism after a reviewer coined the term and noted that most films had a scene in the kitchen; the films typically contained a male protagonist working to fight the constraints of society & its expectations.

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