The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Once (2006)


Guy (Glen Hansard) meets Girl (Marketa Irglova) in Once, the perfect modern musical.

A Wonderful First

By Bryce VanKooten

It isn’t very often you can see breathtaking film making joined with realistic reality. Often times, one leaves a comedy with little more than a laugh. Exits a musical with nothing more than a tune. And frequently realizes that what they just saw can in no way, transcend their life. Let me tell you; today, its happened Once.

If I were to tell you that I am an above average moviegoer, you would label me an elitist. If I were to qualify that statement for the next hundred words, you would call me a blow hard. Here I stand: I am an above average moviegoer. I say that not to separate myself from the gawking masses, but instead to identify my pessimism regarding Musicals. Like Hitchcock watches student films, so too do I watch Musicals. With an opera singer for a sister and more music packed in 23 years than calories in a frappuccino, I don’t bring joy to Musicals; I bring expectations. After sitting through a half hour of Once, all expectations had left my ears, all judgments laid rest until the credits appeared and I relished in my moment: sweet reality, lived one string at a time.

Once is a simple film. Simple in the eyes of the Director and simple in the eyes of most watching, including myself. Its initial simplistic attitude can been seen in the leading character’s names. While creating the film,
Anton (Glen Hansard) was referred to as ‘Guy’ while his counterpart (Marketa Irglova; never given a name in the movie) is referred to as ‘Girl’. From the very beginning, with names that any of us could take, we enter into a story that any of us could have. A simple story of deep pain, profound healing and true friendship, joined by the sweet melodies of an Irish tune. Guy and Girl meet one night on the streets of Ireland, both poor, both hurt, both keenly drawn to each other to form a friendship that blossoms. Very seldom do we get to see great films depict friendship for what it truly is. No scene speaks to this more fervently than in the piano store (a scene that goes down as one of my favorite cinematic moments in a long, long time). After just meeting, Girl tells Guy that she plays the piano and after some convincing, they briskly make their way to the store in hopes of catching a moment of silence that would allow them to play. Only a few seconds later we find ourselves Falling Slowly (as the song so eloquently sings) as the music joins the ensemble and remains beautifully in the leading role.

I don’t know you, but I want you all the more for that.
Words fall through me and always fool me, and I can’t react.
And games that never amount to more than they’re meant, will play themselves out.

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time.
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ve made it now.

We stay with Guy and Girl through the rest of the film, rarely meeting any new faces outside of brief family moments and a quick ride to the ocean. The music guides us at a wonderful pace, along the journey of two very different people joined together by one beautiful sound. Once, a movie that dared to use kindness as motivation and music as consummation, showed two people, not in love with each other, but committed to one another. How truer of love? Worn thin by the pressures of life, yet confidently upbeat about the journey to come, it showed us that love is best displayed in our desire to truly care for another. In our conscious ability to lay our agendas aside and do what’s best for someone else. Some may call this story too simple, others, too musical. I chose to recede to the depths of my couch, eyes closed to the music, relishing in both its breathtaking lyrics and simple harmonies, and call it wonderful…


February 6, 2008 - Posted by | Film Reviews | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I totally agree with you! I watched tis movie recently on DVD and just fell madly in love with it and the music. I had to run out and buy the album which I nedd to listen to daily and my own DVD to watch whenever the mood hits me.

    Comment by Laura | February 8, 2008 | Reply

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