Movie Review: Once

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How often do you feel changed after watching a movie? Trust me on this, “Once” is one of those. And if you do NOT, may be your heart just went cold two hours back. It is amazing that a cheese-less story about a young Irish busker, his torn guitar and an immigrant flower selling lady and their combined passion for music can transcend all the glitter and gleam of High Budget Hollywood musicals with so much ease, you almost forget what was the last musical movie that was so musically as well as cinematically perfect. Amazingly made in 17 days for a shoestring budget of $150K, this can beat all the multi-million ad campaigns of Hollywood summer blockbusters filled with special effects in every frame, with just a single stroke of the acoustic guitar. Pitch perfect!

The story is so simple and yet complicated in a very human way, so real that you never feel that the reel is rolling. You rather feel like a witness to a slice of life and the music just sweeps off your feet. It is a musical, no doubt, but it elevates its genre from the stereotypical orchestrations and the costumes, to a world where emotions and human passions resonate. John Carney’s “Once” tells the story of a young man and a woman who wouldn’t otherwise have anything in common other than she has a busted vacuum cleaner and he works at his Dad’s vacuum repair shop, or so it seems until we discover that these two ordinary people actually have the same passion for writing and playing music. For him, it’s playing covers by the day, and singing his heart out to his own songs in the night, when there’s no one coz no one would listen to them. Enter the woman, whose musical creativity has not found an outlet because of a failed marriage and her responsibility as a single mother. But the music somehow succeeds to creep in and create that miraculous spark which we call romance. Yet, the romance here isn’t the typical Hollywood flavor, replete with sexploitation or melodramatic lyrical lines. It’s all embedded in the silence, and that’s how real love is actually. It’s felt, not spoken out loud.

Talking of the music now, it’s a beautiful soundtrack come to life. Not only that, we even get a glimpse of the genesis of these beautiful compositions as the Guy (Glen Hansard) sings his lines in the little bedroom he has, thinking of his ex and the pain of his unrequited love taking shape in his lyrics. They say, no great art came from happiness. But this movie doesn’t dwell in melancholy, it rather is pulsating with life through out in the form of music and little incidents which make you feel revived. It’s about the music, yes, in every way, but never does it make you feel like a musical where people randomly break into a song. It’s happening in real time here, as and when the music is created, and not at all cut short. The song of the movie is “I don’t know you, but I love you”. It is so simple, yet surprisingly shocking enough to me that no one before thought of such a tune. You need to hear this to believe my words. The studio sessions are a feast to watch, as we see the street music companions get transformed to studio artists and the Sound Engineer, even in the wee hours of morning, painlessly sits through a recording session surprised by the unexpected magnificence of the band’s creation.

Cinematic perfection comes as close as it can. This movie just moves me with all those perfect moments. Like the banker who starts playing a song of his own when they go for a loan request. I had the widest smile of the year, and a feeling of triumph, I think last felt when Neo dodged the bullets. The scene where a group of musicians gather over a candle lit dinner and sing their own songs is just simply put Brilliant. Not to forget, the recording of the first track when the Sound Engineer has a change of his heart or a song taking shape in a dark room with only the Girl in the piano, and the Guy being completely smitten by her. The narrative infuses that intangible element of reality incredibly in scenes which depict romance like never before, yet done very right in scenes like when the two share a moment in the silent Irish hills. Kudos to Carney again, to have given the relationship such a beautiful treatment and more importantly respected it. Once asks the question: How often do you meet the right person? My question: How often do you see a movie perfectly made? My verdict: Go watch Once THRICE and fall in LOVE with the songs.

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6 thoughts to “Movie Review: Once”

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  4. “You rather feel like a witness to a slice of life and the music just sweeps off your feet” emotions exactly..thanks again for the recommendation…the music..dude..oh dude…


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