Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Once (2006)

Director/writer: John Carney
Photography: Tim Fleming
Music: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
Cast: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová

This is a musical in approximately exactly the same way that Tommy is an opera (it has songs the way Tommy has an overture and underture). Whatever you want to call it it's a beautiful and tremendously moving love story, which I suspect benefits in no small measure from the somewhat unsettling fact that the actors playing the principals were actually falling in love during the filming. These things happen, as they say, and if I have my misgivings about the players (the age difference, see) I don't about the characters, which has to do with the story, but I'm not going to give things away. Another key point in its favor: the music is terrific, a kind of woodshedding Band circa Big Pink by way of Irish busking sort of thing (but much more romantic)—think Richard Thompson infinitely more raw rather than Bono, please (let alone The Commitments)—a fresh and invigorating sound that harks clearly enough to the late '60s/early '70s, which also fits the characters, who are lovely and charming in every way that matters. Oh, and some of the songs are guaranteed to stick your heart. Which, I guess, must make it a musical after all—at least to the extent that it's such a perfectly delicious fantasy, all those gritty street trappings notwithstanding.

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