Monday, February 25, 2008

Once (Movie Review)

Speaking as a girl who generally despises musicals, Once (2007) symbolizes — for me — everything a musical should be.

Rather than the typical scenario whereby actors suddenly — and unrealistically — burst out into song, Once is far more subtle. It chronicles the interactions of an Irish street musician in Dublin and a Czech ex-patriot peddling roses in the same vicinity.

Though never given names, this "Guy" and "Girl" set about to intermingle their musical proclivity, with his talent on the guitar — and her soft tickling of the ivories — resulting in some rather beautiful, touching melodies.

[Yes, I (legally) downloaded the entire album after my first viewing.]

Thus, the "musical" aspect of this movie is very... fluid. Natural, never forced. But of course a charming Irish boy and an attractive Czech girl can't make beautiful music together without, eh, making beautiful music together.

But for each their love of music — as well as their clear attraction to the other — is punctuated by emotional baggage (who can't relate to that?) and so a fair amount of tension. The end result: possibly the best "musical" I've ever seen, and not at all bad if you instead count it as a "romance" (another genre I generally despise).

It's cute. Funny. Sad. Touching. Well-written. And, at only 80 minutes of run-time, it knows precisely when to quit.

I'll be adding this one to my permanent collection.

FINAL GRADE: A-/A

CAUTION: Comments section contains spoilers. It's OK to click and comment, but don't read previously posted comments if you haven't yet seen the film (and have any intention of doing so).

11 comments:

david said...

Perfect. I bought the CD. Then I bought the DVD, which I have viewed 4 times in the 3 weeks that I have owned it. I like to watch it with English subtitles turned on. Otherwise, some of the dialog is hard to catch. I wouldn't call it sad. I see it as hopeful. After their week together, both Guy and Girl are left with hope -something to work on, and something to look forward to. It is my favorite movie (followed by A River Runs Through it, Nobody's Fool, and Sideways).

M@ said...

You downloaded it LEGALLY? If paleontologists dug you up in a swamp, they'd have found a.... dorkasaurus.

Jonas said...

Yep. Count me in as another fan.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

David - That opening scene was especially difficult for me to understand without subtitles. But, you know, I think we were left with slightly different overall impressions: to me the ending was both a positive and a negative. On one hand, they won't "ruin" their connection by trying to make it into something more. There will be no arguments about socks left on the floor, or shouting matches with the step-daughter when she enters into her teens. And yet: they both chose the path of least resistance. Falling back into old habits, and returning to people who (for one) didn't make her happy and (for the other) who broke their trust by cheating.

That's bittersweet, man.

M@ - You're just jealous of my good morals.

James Burnett said...

OK, you lost me with "musicals."

Kidding. I'm not a big fan of 'em either, but I can still sing verbatim most of the soundtrack from the Sound of Music.

I probably shouldn't have admitted that.

Pamela said...

I L.O.V.E Musicals. So on your recommendation I will be seeing this one.

Stacy said...

The Other Bolyen Girl, opens this Friday. I just finished reading it over Christmas, all 600 pages. LOVE IT. Phillipa Gregory is an amazing writer, hope this film doesn't disappoint. Going?

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

David - Hope you revisit this post, as I think you live somewhere in the same basic longtiude and latitude as me, in which case it might interest you to know this duo is touring. Check 'em out on Ticketmaster.

Beth said...

Best movie I saw in 2007.

david said...

I am aware of the Swell Season tour. In fact, I nearly drove off the road when I heard the ad on XRT and realized immediately that I will be helping small children build birdhouses 800 miles away when the tour is in Chicago. How far is it to Minneapolis?

Workman said...

I'm with you on Once. It's wonderful. When the guy is heading off into the airport, I thought to myself, "if they roll the credits right now, this will be the perfect movie." And they rolled the credits.

I didn't care if he got back with his girlfriend. I didn't care if she and her husband could make a go of it. I didn't care if the newly recorded demo would land him a major label recording contract. If they addressed any of those things, it would have ruined the movie.

I don't think the ending was sad at all, because it was never about the romane. It was about the music. A chance meeting set into motion a series of events that created a beautiful work of art. The rest is just details.