Once (2007)

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Once
Dir. John Carney
Premiered at Sundance January 20, 2007

A movie musical with an original story and original music? They spoil us.

In Dublin, an anonymous, heartbroken vacuum repairman (Glen Hansard) doubles as a street musician; playing standards for tourists by day and original compositions for his lonely father by night. His skills as a songwriter attract the interest of a much younger Czech migrant (Marketa Irglova) who is also musically talented. When Hansard discovers that she has an estranged husband and young daughter, he quickly decides to reunite with his ex-girlfriend in London, but not before recording an album with his new friend, imagining what could have been.

In reviewing and ranking these films, I’ve tried to balance my judgment between objective filmmaking and personal taste. With Once, I find myself in a dilemma. Nothing is wrong with the movie; it’s heartfelt, honest, well-acted, and the music is terrific– but none of it is really my cup of tea. At worst, I thought it could’ve been a little more visually interesting; this almost reminds me of mumblecore. Honestly, I’m probably going to forget I saw this film.

Signs This Was Made in 2007
I’ve never been to Ireland, but from what I’ve seen and heard, this is a pretty good portrait of Dublin during the Celtic Tiger era.

Additional Notes
Apparently, Cillian Murphy was considered for Glen Hansard’s part, which seems crazy.

How Did It Do?
Once grossed $23.3 million against a $150,000 budget. It received a 97% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, made at least 36 published top ten lists at the end of the year, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (which is totally fair). I just don’t get it.

Next Time: Year of the Dog