Once (2006)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Slice of Life  |   Release Date - May 16, 2007 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - Ireland  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

It would be easy to crush John Carney's warm-hearted Once with overpraise. It is a very small, very simple, immensely likeable movie that earns an audience's goodwill early thanks to a very winning performance by Glen Hansard. The film opens with scenes of the man earning money as a street singer, and his singing voice, as well as his sympathy for an addict who tries to rob him, make him an instantly engaging character. Thanks to a textbook "meet cute" involving a broken appliance, he makes the acquaintance of a woman (Markéta Irglová) who eventually becomes his collaborator on a series of songs and recordings that will help both of them realize their personal goals. The songs they create together are the center of the film, and tonally they fit the movie perfectly. They are very pretty, with simple repetitive declarations of emotion, although they lack real hooks -- they are like an earthier version of Damien Rice songs. The movie does not build to a false climax. There is no buildup to a gig that will break them into the big time, and although this is a love story, the movie does not hinge on a "will they or won't they get together" template that would drive most films like this. The simple ending provides a gentle poetic touch that underscores how well these two characters know each other, and what they have given to each other during their brief time together. Once is simply a straightforward account of a couple of weeks in these people's lives, a period of time they will only have once.