Every once in a while, I see a lovely little movie that makes me happy every time I think of it. Nothing mind blowing, just a perfectly charming film that captivates me. Once is one of those movies.
I knew next to nothing about it before watching it, other than it was a Sundance success and told a love story through music (though it's a musical in The Commitments sense, not in the Chicago sense where people burst into song for no apparent reason). The plot unfolds in unsurprising but also unconventional ways, so I won't ruin it for anyone else by saying much more than that.
Written and directed by John Carney, Once pairs Glen Hansard -- one of The Commitments and part of the real-life band The Frames -- with Czech singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová in her first acting role. He's character-actor attractive, but if I’d only seen a picture of her, I would have thought she was plain but pleasant looking. In motion, full of personality, she’s gorgeous. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, as is the music she and Hansard co-wrote for the film, complementing his rougher tone. Entertainment Weekly says they are/were a real-life item, and as you can tell, I might be a little in love with both of them, too.
I had to go to iTunes to get the soundtrack after seeing Once, though the music is not the only thing to recommend it. These are characters you know, you care about, in a tale that feels fresh and true. Still, for a taste of what I'm talking about, here's some live performances of music from the film:
Falling Slowly, performed on Letterman:
If You Want Me (my favourite track, but this has terrible video - good audio, though)