Sunday, June 10, 2007

Brooklyn Arden Review: "Once"

Last night James and I went to see a lovely little film called "Once." It is the story of two unnamed musicians, Guy and Girl: Guy busks on Dublin streets, Girl says she likes his music, Girl reveals herself to be a musician as well, Guy and Girl collaborate on song -- and then another song and another, culminating in a recording session in a studio and an ending that is unexpected but right.

The whole film is low-key but beautiful in its realism -- these are real people, who make tea and work in vacuum-repair shops to pay the bills; who have responsibilities and histories beyond their on-screen love (something only rarely acknowledged in filmic romances). The music unfolds with the same richness and naturalism, at moments when the two rehearse, or play their songs for each other, or compose songs related to their emotional lives. . . . At one sweet, telling moment, he's telling her about his ex-girlfriend, and he sings their history in a few little made-up-on-the-spot songs, because he speaks through music, the same way artists draw to think and writers breathe in words. It's far more affecting than "Dreamgirls," say, because it's the way we human beings actually live with music, in songs we sing as we walk down the street, or lyrics that break our hearts because they capture so perfectly what we feel. (Indeed, the pure emotion on screen combined with the intensity of the music can be almost overwhelming.) I can best describe it as "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset" with music as lovely and complicated as the characters involved, and end with this: Don't miss it.

Another review, from the excellent blog "Living the Romantic Comedy."

And I'm going to post the video for my favorite song via YouTube, since I can't make it work through the Fox Searchlight site.


  1. The video won't play for me. Which link is it on the "Once" home page?

  2. Cool! Sounds like it's worth checking out. I used to be so intot he foreign and independent film scene when I lived in NYC. The Angelika is a neat spot! I'll keep my eyes peeled for this one.