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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 EricDSnider

"A pleasant Irish musical, indie-style."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: A musical for the modern age, "Once" is a lovely bit of Irish pleasantness in which two wandering young souls come together and make beautiful music together. The tunes tend to be of the shoe-gazing indie-folk variety, and the cinematography is natural and documentary-like. You get the sense that if the guy who plays guitar in the subway made a movie, it would look like this.

The characters are never named. The guy (Glen Hansard) is a street guitarist who works part-time in his father's vacuum cleaner repair shop. The girl (Marketa Irglova) is a Czech girl who lives with her mother and young daughter and plays piano when she gets the chance. They meet; they become friends; they become musical collaborators; romance seems imminent.

That is basically the entire story there, and it's the lack of more substance, plot-wise, that prevents me from completely loving the film. (Even at just 88 minutes, it still feels a little long.) But I certainly do like it! Hansard and Irglova are both musicians, not actors (though they act well enough, too), and their musical performances are genuinely impressive. When other characters in the film rave about how good their songs are, it's a pleasant surprise to find that hey, they're right. These songs ARE pretty good!

Writer/director John Carney let the actors improvise through many of the scenes, and the naturalness is a huge benefit to the film. It feels immediate and real, not removed and plastic the way many films (and especially musicals) often do.

I like also how the guy's dad (Bill Hodnett) is sweetly supportive of his musical career, not dismissive the way movie fathers often are. In fact, there aren't many conflicts in the story at all -- and you don't miss them. It's a smiling, hopeful film, simply constructed and very emotionally appealing. It may not sound like much to hear it described, but I bet you'll be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

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originally posted: 02/01/07 08:17:39
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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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