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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.77%
Average: 3.49%
Pretty Bad: 4.65%
Total Crap: 1.16%

8 reviews, 38 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Frames Of Reference, Romance And Beautiful Music"
5 stars

At an otherwise weak affair that was this yearís Sundance film festival, there was a title that was filling the void of the buzz circuit. As usual, it was a film that I had missed the screening of. This time due to a three-hour flight delay that forced me to reshuffle my schedule. (Thanks, Delta.) A colleague first told me about it. Disappointment began engulfing the festival day-by-day, but this one title stood out. I was stationed in a hotel room literally right across the hall from the publicists handling the film and their screener was always checked out. How special could this movie be? Rest assured, it is not in my words that you will find the answer, but in the music that defines it.

Storywise itís as simple as boy-meets-girl, or ďGuyĒ-meets-ďGirlĒ as the credits identify the two lead characters. The Guy (Glen Hansard) is a musician on the streets of Ireland; his songs cascading the loneliness of having just broken up with someone. A few coins here, an attempted robbery there, itís just another day for the singer until somebody stops to actually compliment him on his music. This Girl (Markťta IrglovŠ) also works the street selling roses, not for her own prosperity but for that of her young child and mother, each of them immigrants from Czechoslovokia. Her one pleasure, peace from the everyday struggle, is a little time for herself at a piano shop where the owner is gracious enough to let her play. Together they stop over, him with his guitar and her with the black-and-whites and she joins him in a duet that is about as strong as any first kiss you can fantasize about. Honestly, if you are not entranced by the beauty of this song and the unfolding of this moment I will write you a personalized letter of apology for recommending this film to you.

Like a foreplay even the shiest, most unconfident of men could recognize, they donít fall into one anotherís arms. His attempt at getting her to spend the night has the aura of truth between two people whose lives dictate their lives instead of spontaneous feelings. She does care enough for him though to inspire him to make the next step in getting his music heard. Seeking out bandmates to cut a record, the pair get into a studio thanks to some shrewd negotiation on her part and discover that even a producer isnít needed to strengthen what they have. Itís perfect as is.

The looks they get as they begin busting a tune would be an annoying simplification if we didnít think the music was any good. We all fashion ourselves critics of something and music, while a universal entity, is both the most scrutinized and passive topic for amateur listeners. Lord knows I donít know music the way I do film, but I recognize when heart is the predominant factor in a four-minute bit of poetry. Not the kind of cornball, weepy-eyed ballads but songs where itís clear that the artist is pouring every emotion of his soul into the performance. As great as Onceís songs will be on the soundtrack, it cannot compare to the visual stimuli that accompanies the long notes that Hansard cries out and the backup that Iglova compliments like a guardian angel assuring him that his voice will never be alone.

Whatever resurgence the musical has had in the last five years, it has been downtrodden with lame stories (Rent), lame execution (The Phantom of the Opera) and the eye, ear and every sextremity-sore that has punctuated Moulin Rouge and Dreamgirls with Julie Taymorís Across the Universe waiting in the wings. Once just has a guy, a girl, and the music. Itís chief attribute also being its major flaw in that you wish there was more than just the bare minimum. Replaying its anthem during the final scene helps provide the emotion for a resolution that may have just been another ending without it. Maybe this is my way of wishing there were more songs and more moments between Hansard and Iglova as beautiful as their first duet or the quiet emotion reflected on a piano bench together. I havenít been this charmed by a movie this simplistic in some time and hopefully upon such a time more people will discover it and find what a true musical can inspire.

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originally posted: 05/25/07 00:04:51
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 San Francisco Film Festival For more in the 2007 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/26/13 sam It is an ok movie if one likes the music, primitive storyline otherwise 2 stars
10/21/11 Joey One of the most heart-felt movies I've seen, complete with outstanding music. 5 stars
8/01/11 Piz Formulaic boy-meets-girl snoozer that's carried by a couple of decent folk songs 2 stars
5/10/11 Stephanie Worth watching just for the excellent music! Beautiful. 4 stars
9/13/10 MP Bartley A beautiful, sweet film. 5 stars
4/13/10 ES It was ok, but musicals are never great 3 stars
12/16/09 Joanna this was my fav movie 5 stars
3/24/09 Anonymous. holy wow, great movie :P 5 stars
1/04/09 julia IMO, the best music film ever made. 5 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
11/01/08 Lucy the best film ever made. my favorite. :] 5 stars
8/24/08 AnnieG Not a musical as it is often described! Boring at times, and overall an evocativefilm. 3 stars
3/11/08 joana very touching esp. if u are into music. you will realize how powerful music can be 4 stars
3/07/08 Jackie Boring & Dull - even if I amthe only one! 2 stars
1/05/08 Taylor Fladgate Great chemistry, great songs, great story. 5 stars
12/07/07 Martin dude theres no country called Czechoslovakia, prof reviewer should know it unless u r Amer. 4 stars
10/03/07 John Hudson Oscars Now! Best film, best score, best original song. Perfect! 5 stars
9/28/07 JMW Thrilled I saw it before I read Erik's reviw, he gives away the joy of discovering 5 stars
9/14/07 DC good flick, but I didn't write home about it 4 stars
9/05/07 BertRito Incredible. That's all I can say... 5 stars
9/05/07 Pat Perfect. That is all I can say. 5 stars
9/03/07 C.Mason poor quality sound,poor poor production value a rip-off 1 stars
8/30/07 Pinhead Bittersweet, deeply moving, yet still energizing and uplifting 5 stars
8/10/07 Frank 'F-words' humorous, necessary part of show, beautifully done, art, great, touching, yes 5 stars
8/07/07 Private I enjoyed it more than Before Sunset 4 stars
8/06/07 Maggie Curran Delightful, well-scripted and well-acted 5 stars
8/04/07 jcjs33 wow, beautiful, melancholy, perfect, lovely etc. 5 stars
7/30/07 Elizabeth Extremely overrated -- I had such high hopes. 3 stars
7/29/07 suepie Very evocative film, great music 5 stars
6/25/07 Roy F. Moore Other than the "F-words" in the beginning, the movie just shines! 5 stars
6/23/07 Melissa K Weaves a spell of charm and longing with inspired acting and musical performances. 5 stars
6/19/07 Ed Dill An extremely touching film about a relationship fueled by the love of music 5 stars
6/18/07 JB Excellent simple plot and moving music seamlessly integrated. 5 stars
6/10/07 Kathryn Best film of the year. The music is used very skillfully to capture authentic feeling. 5 stars
6/02/07 JT It's unpretentious yet grand in its authenticity. The actors and music are fabulous! 5 stars
5/31/07 Jim Brandt Best romantic comedy since Notting Hill. Honest music, like Prairie Home Companion... 5 stars
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  16-May-2007 (R)
  DVD: 18-Dec-2007



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  John Carney

Written by
  John Carney

  Glen Hansard
  Marketa Irglova

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