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Once (2006) Movie Review


Most of the characters are unnamed.
Glen Hansard            The Guy
Marketa Irglova        The Girl

Rated R for language

The Guy repairs sweepers during the day at his dad's shop, and busks in his free time. (Busking is street performing.) He lives in the attic of his parent's home, writing heartfelt songs of longing and bitter songs about lies on his guitar. His former girlfriend broke his heart. and though he's still hopelessly in love with her, he can't get past the fact that she cheated on him.

The Girl walks by him on a Dublin street corner where he's playing. She enjoys his original compositions and pursues a conversation with him. She learns he repairs vacuum cleaners. Chance would have it, her Hoover is broken. She asks if he could fix it. It's an awkward conversation, but she seems intent on having it. She comes back the next day, dragging her blue canister vacuum cleaner behind her on the sidewalk. Thus begins an unusual and clumsy friendship.

She has an assortment of odd jobs to support herself, including selling roses on the street. A Czech immigrant, living in a small apartment with her toddler and her mother, his music draws her to him. She longs for her piano, a luxury she can no longer afford. She satisfies that longing by playing on floor models at a piano store. She takes him there and plays for him.

He lives up to a stereotype that a man can't be “just friends” with a woman he finds attractive, and invites her to stay the night. She declines and the awkwardness portrayed in their attempt to still be friends is quite realistic. They need something from each other, though it's never put into words. Those needs are met through the music they work on together.

I found this movie to be truly charming. It shares a sweet love story of two people unable to let go of their past. In spite of that, they gave one another something more valuable than a romantic relationship – they help one another heal.

The filming was reminiscent of old documentaries, with small crews cramming into actual homes and following people down the street. The film cost less than $200,000 to make, and was shot with hand held cameras. Filmed entirely in Ireland, even the ever-present overcast skies reinforce the feel of the film. It was authentically artsy.

Warning: You may find the soundtrack irresistible. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova won the Oscar for Best Song for “Falling Slowly”.

I paid for the video rental service that provided this DVD. I was not compensated for my review.

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