Once is the sort of movie that will never ever leave me. Within the first five minutes of viewing the film in the theater, I knew that I would be irrevocably affected by what was playing out on the screen before me. That may seem a bit dramatic and even presumptuous to say, but I can’t think of a more accurate way to describe how it feels to think back to the very first time I watched Once.
If you haven’t a clue what movie I’m talking about, skip ahead to the trailer at the end of this post. Basically it’s an independent boy-meets-girl film with a musical spin. Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Irish band the Frames, plays the unnamed male lead while Czechoslovakian newcomer Market Irglova portrayed the girl. While Hansard spends his days performing popular covers on his battered old guitar in the middle of the busy town square, Irglova sells novelty items to tourists in the same commercial section of Ireland. Irglova finally approaches the talented music man late at night after hearing him play one of his most beautiful originals “Say It To Me Now.” Her perfunctory line of questioning and abrupt manner of conversation are initially a turn-off to Hansard. But their subsequent interactions turn him further and further on to this magnetic girl’s charms, especially once he discovers her musical prowess on piano.
The two make music together and adventures ensue. Both of their histories, romantic and otherwise, are slowly unveiled and the seemingly simple outcome of a typical boy-meets-girl scenario looks increasingly unlikely. But set to the entire story is an outstanding soundtrack of original music. It’s hard to classify the film as having either a soundtrack or a score – the songs contained therein are central to the story itself as in a musical but are more akin to tracks than a standard score. No matter how you look at it, the way in which music, in particular Hansard and Irglova’s songs, is woven into the film makes Once as stunning as it is. My major impressions upon leaving the theater were of incomprehensible beauty, songs so gorgeous that I wanted to cry, cheesy as that may sound. It is exceedingly difficult for me to accurately describe them because they are so wonderful, but that is why this is a must-watch film.
For about a year, Mike and I were without our DVD copy of Once. We generously donated one of our very favorite films to our close friend Evan. Being kind and forgiving people, we didn’t get upset with Evan for forgetting to return to us our most prized DVD on the innumerable occasions he had to do so. But when Once was finally returned to our hands, we both fell in love all over again and watched the movie at least three times in the span of a single week. We didn’t realize just how special the movie was to us both and how universally appealing a film it is. There isn’t a single person I’ve recommended Once to that has come back anything less than grateful, a raving fan, and ecstatic at having been introduced to Hansard and Irglova’s world. I hope that the trend of thoroughly satisfied viewers holds true for any readers out there who get their own hands on a copy of Once.