The Irish romance ONCE may be a musical, but it is miles away from the traditional Hollywood idea of people bursting into song. Glen Hansard (frontman for indie rock band The Frames) plays the guy, a street musician who is playing for change when he meets the girl (Marketa Irglova), an immigrant from the Czech Republic. The pair immediately bond over their shared love of music (he is a guitarist, and she plays the piano), and the film chronicles their tentative relationship. Both are weighed down by plenty of baggage: his songs are fueled by a painful breakup, and she is a young mother who left her husband behind in her native country.
Like the independent favorite BEFORE SUNRISE, ONCE is a simple, sweet drama that doesn't rely on an elaborate plot. With its use of digital video and handheld cameras, ONCE matches its spare visual style to its intimate mood. Each moment feels stolen from real life, and the story is at once familiar and fresh. Driven more by music than by dialogue, ONCE features a stirring soundtrack of heartfelt indie rock sung by Hansard and Irglova. Before his foray into film, director John Carney (ON THE EDGE) played bass in The Frames, and his passion for music is clear in this modern musical that hits every note perfectly.
2007 - Academy Awards - Best Original Song Winner
Theatrical Release: May 16, 2007 (Limited)
"[I]ts low-key affect and decidedly human scale endow ONCE with an easy, lovable charm that a flashier production could never have achieved." - 05/16/2007 New York Times, p.E9
"[The songs] are softly gorgeous odes to troubled hearts....ONCE moves with the dartingly unresolved, clear-eyed spirit of a French New Wave film." - 05/25/2007 Entertainment Weekly, p.66
"ONCE is as enchanted with the expressiveness of song as a Jacques Demy movie....These numbers carry an affectingly plaintive charge, laying bare the characters' hurts and hopes..." - 10/01/2007 Sight and Sound, p.64
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] magnificent, unique movie....ONCE is an 85-minute ballad with musings on love and loss that cannot help but speak to everyone." - 11/01/2007 Total Film, p.48
4 stars out of 5 -- "A subtle, engrossing romance, but one laced with a bittersweet tang....The songs are fantastic." - 11/01/2007 Empire, p.50
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] low-budget Irish charmer....[With] deft directorial determination..." - 03/01/2008 Uncut, p.124
5 stars out of 5 -- "[With] charismatic leads, [a] heart-wrenching story and powerfully raw musical performances..." - 04/01/2008 Ultimate DVD, p.83