Once

Director: John Carney
Screenwriters: John Carney

Institute History

Description

A Dublin busker, who ekes out a living playing guitar and repairing vacuum cleaners for his dad's shop, meets a young Czech immigrant who sells roses on the same street. She likes his song, and what's more…she has a broken vacuum cleaner! They soon find themselves playing music together in a nearby music store (since she can't afford a piano, the owner lets her play his floor models). Over the course of a week, they form a musical rapport and, newly inspired, decide to record an album.

Once may loosely be classified as a musical, but it has a refreshing vérité inflection. Conceived by director John Carney as a "video album," it sports a scrappy, unembellished naturalism. Carney took a risk in choosing professional musicians over professional actors, but Glen Hansard (of the well-known Irish band the Frames) and Marketa Irglova (a Czech singer/songwriter) are not only remarkably charming together but they're equally adept with the more melancholy shades (Hansard's lonely soul, stuck on an old flame; Irglova struggling to support a mother and daughter). Burdened and brokenhearted, their musical bond is the heart of the film and of their love.

Great music aside, what makes this film special is how little effort it seems to exert. If it's possible to be blindsided by simplicity—a light touch, Once does it.

— John Nein

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

Credits

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