Review: Once (2006)

An absolutely charming film with a wonderful soundtrack. In this day and age of bombastic big screen adaptations of over-produced Broadway hits, this low-key musical drama is a genuine breath of fresh air.

A struggling street musician in Dublin strikes up a conversation with a Czech immigrant who appreciates his music. He’s a Hoover repairman, she has a broken vacuum, and so begins their friendship. Over the next week these two will walk, talk, make great music together, and inadvertently help each other get to the next stage of their lives.

Once hits every note just right. Early on, when they visit a music shop so she can play the piano for him, they sing an impromptu duet that unfolds so naturally I was utterly enthralled. It was as if we, the audience, were all there in the music shop, witnessing the rare spark and fusion of two musical souls. If the movie had ended right there, it would have been worth the price of admission.

Happily, the story continues and we follow the boy and girl (they’re never named) as they collaborate together, preparing to cut a demo of his music. Glen Hansard (from the folk rock band The Frames) and Marketa Irglova sing and act beautifully together. Their story is simple and simply told. Once is a refreshing change of pace from the formula romantic comedy; you almost breathe a sigh of relief when each Hollywood plot pitfall is dodged. Added to that are musical numbers that enhance the story, cleverly integrated in a way that maintains the realism without resorting to cheesy tricks or fantasy sequences.

To say any more would spoil the wonderful experience of discovering this film on your own, which I highly encourage everyone to do. [***** out of 5]

2 thoughts on “Review: Once (2006)

  1. Never even heard of it but I’ll keep my eye on the lookout for it now. Thanks 🙂
    I did see Snowcake, which was really good I thought. Weird. Unsettling. But really good. Unlike Infamous which I found so irritating, I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes.

  2. My wife & I finally got ’round to seeing this, and we both loved it! Thanks for the suggestion. Reg knew many of the location shots. We bought the soundtrack the next day. The piano on “When Your Mind’s Made Up” is brilliant.

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