Once is a simple, captivating, heartbreaking love story that can be summarized in a sentence, or two at most, but it is powerful and beautiful and touching and sweet and the list goes on. Of course it would be nothing without the music, which is extremely good. Glen Hansard (who plays “Guy”) and Marketa Irglova (”Girl”) have such raw, pure voices that every song near about gave me chills. Which is kind of rare. And when I say the movie is simple I mean there are no big, flashy choreographed dance numbers in this musical. It’s a musical, but not a Chicago or Moulin Rouge. The songs are usually just Guy and Girl singing in a room or maybe walking somewhere (nothing fancy) and yet four minutes of them just sitting in a room and singing their hearts out kept me thoroughly engrossed.
Though you don’t find out a whole lot about these characters, the brief snapshot you do get both leaves you wanting to know more while at the same time I felt content as the credits started to roll. The romance in Once is not really typical. Sure you have this guy, who had his heart broken by a woman, and this girl, who is sort of unavailable in many ways, and it seems like in any typical movie that they would meet, fall in love, consummate their love and walk off into the brilliant sunset. But here it’s different. I won’t go into details, since the plot is so simple I don’t want to ruin what little there is, but I think sometimes simple can be charmingly effective, which it is here.
The last thing I wanted to mention was the cinematography. It’s not real-high budget or anything, but I swear every frame of this movie could be frozen and viewed as a work of art. Each angle, close-up, etc….they’re all eye-catching and beautiful. In a quick screen grab of Guy you can see so many layers of emotion in his face (especially when he is singing) and behind Girl’s eyes you can see a side she won’t verbally speak of–a vulnerable side. That and the backdrop of Ireland, where the movie is set, is gorgeous. Makes me want to pack up and take a trip there.
Trailer after the cut.