DVD Reviews | Feb 10th, 2008

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Starring Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
Written By: John Carney
Directed By: John Carney
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Buy on Amazon.com link

Once is one of those films that looks so meek and simple on the outset that you have to wonder why you’d even want to watch it. But I’m pretty sure its aesthetic wasn’t what attracted so many people to make it one of the surprise hits of last summer. It’s a film that grows almost completely from word of mouth and positive buzz. And with good reason. This is a special and enjoyable film, a definite diamond in the rough.

Essentially the story of a guy and a girl, some music, and the streets of Dublin, the film features and is carried by the music of stars (and composers) Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Marketa Irglova. While Hansard is without a doubt the more talented of the two, both of their voices combine to make beautiful harmonies, and I meant that equal parts literally and figuratively. The music is by all means the star of this film; the guy and girl in it are aspiring musicians and the plotline revolves around them making music together (although more literal than figurative, even if they want to make sweet music). Of course to make the figurative music, there are a few obstacles – he is still pining over an ex-girlfriend who moved to London, while she is technically married to a guy back in the Czech Republic and has a child by him. All of this adds to the tension and the connection in the music.

What makes this film work is the way the tender musical moments are taken seriously, and how the actors react to it. My favourite moments in the film are when people hear the music the two are performing and seem to ‘get it,’ especially the studio technician who is taken by surprise when he hears the music they perform.

It’s rare that such a simple independent film can be so touching and simple without the aid of big stars, a big budget, or even a familiar setting for North American audiences. But Once is a unique film in the way it transcends those boundaries, and it does it with music, tenderness, honesty, and a little bit of cinema magic. Not to be cheesy or anything, but you’ll want to see this one more than ‘once.’

Music & film commentaries by writer/director John Carney and actors/musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Making a modern day musical featurette
More guy, more girl featurette
Broken hearted hoover fixer sucker guy webisode (animated)

Dolby Digital Surround

1.85:1 Widescreen

English, French, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: The initial performance of Falling Slowly, the recording of When Your Mind’s Made Up
Rating: R
Running Time: 85 minutes
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