Saturday, February 28, 2009

Movie Review - Once

I'll be the first to admit I don't watch a whole lot of movies, and I review even fewer. But there's a movie that I want to talk about that I greatly enjoyed tonight; a low-budget music film made in Ireland called Once.

The film follows a nameless Dublin street musician (Glen Hansard, 'Guy' going forward) and a Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova, 'Girl' going forward) who befriend one another while the guy is performing on the street one evening. He learns that the girl is a pianist, and after he shares some music with her, they go on to record an album with another group of street musicians to complete the band. The characters are simple, he being a vacuum repairman and writing music on the side, her being a mother taking care of a child, and the dynamic between the two main characters is enjoyably sweet. The shoulder-held camera shooting of the film also adds to its simplicity of both the characters and the story; very little in the way of high drama or fancy camera work, just a plain, simple, enjoyable story that doesn't try to do too much or be strikingly profound with any underlying themes.

Where Once really shines, however, is in the music. As mentioned, the story revolves around the guy and the girl recording an album, and the music that the characters record, which serves as the soundtrack for the film, is largely written and performed by Hansard and Irglova themselves, either individually or jointly, and serves as the true focus of the film. The music follows a general trend of being low-key acoustic ballads, with a range of emotion from more tender and hopeful ("Falling Slowly") to bitter hindsight ("Lies"), and much like the film itself, makes little effort to be musically profound or complex; with the exception of "Fallen From The Sky", the music is simple band arrangements or guitar/piano duets, that fit perfectly with the style of the film.

All in all, while certainly not an involved film by any stretch, it doesn't profess to be, and as such becomes a good film by being a simple story, as well as, admittedly, a vehicle for Hansard's and Irglova's music. If you're looking for something laid back and easy to watch and enjoy, with a terrific soundtrack to boot, I highly recommend it.

No comments:

Post a Comment