Monday, February 18, 2008

Last week I rented "Once" from Netflix. The movie had been recommended to me since November, but I never got around to adding it to my list. I think the movie synopsis initially made me uncertain about renting it. The summary said it was a "modern day musical," which, as many of you know, I do not like. Musicals are generally too joyous and, therefore, too annoying for me to watch (I honestly can't stand the crazy hand gestures and arm movements, okay!). However, I decided to give "Once" a chance because I had read that the movie included "subtle acoustic music rich with emotion and a story of simple, yet powerful depth."

Indeed, "Once" is an amazingly simple yet powerful story about how a chance encounter can change lives. The movie stars Glen Hansard, Irish rocker from "The Frames," as Guy and Markéta Irglová, a Czech musician, as Girl. Guy is a heartbroken shop worker who performs amazing guitar solos on the street for extra cash. He lives with his father and, as a result of his heartbreak over the loss of his lover, is uninspired to move beyond his current place in life. Girl is a recent immigrant to the Irish city. She is poor, but works multiple jobs to obtain cash. One night she encounters guy and changes his life thereafter. She motivates him to win his girlfriend back and he helps her see the strength and beauty in her struggles. The two come together in an inspired connection, performing music together to overcome the mental obstacles that haunt them. In the end, they are empowered by one another and go on to live the lives they were meant to.

At the heart of the movie, though, is the music. While some critics would call this movie a musical, I would call it a subtle romance. Unlike a musical, the music does not facilitate action nor describe a scene. Instead, the music of "Once" is about deep thought and emotion. It's about where each character has been, what they have experienced and felt, and where they want to be. The music characterizes the individuals, guiding and eventually concluding the story. In the end, the movie is a pseudo-documentary local color slice of life. It's a story that transcends what is depicted within and translates to the lives of those who watch it. For, as the title suggests, each one of us has had that moment in our lives "Once."

If you haven't seen this movie and you like romance movies, check it out. If you like the music of Glen Hansard, check it out. If you like the music of Damien Rice or any variants thereof, check it out. If your like me and you like adorable Czech women with talent (Markéta Irglová), check it out! All in all, this movie is the underdog hit of the year. It is amazingly simple, emotional, and powerful. "Once" is worth more than one passing glance.

Also, if you are interested in hearing their music, I recommend you watch the Oscars as Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová will be performing "Falling Slowly" from the movie. Of course, if you can't wait, check out the official movie website or their myspace page.


Kristen said...

My sister and I watched this movie last weekend. Oh my gosh - loved it. I've been listening to the soundtrack at work for the past two days - makes me a little melancholy, but it's worth it. :)

Oh, and I've totally been planning to go to the Phoenix-area iteration of that concert you mention below (Ingrid Michaelson, et al) - can't wait!

Thister said...

Yeah! The soundtrack is great, but I agree that is does make you a little melancholy. I especially like the hauntingly beautiful "If You Want Me" and the tragically hopeful "Falling Slowly."

AWESOME! You'll have to let me know how the concert is when it hits your locale. I honestly can't wait to go to the show!

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