Writer: John Carney
Director: John Carney
Budget: 180 000 euros/$150 000 (estimated)
Gross (USA): $540 753 as of May 27th, 2007
he is a musician who busks on the street on his breaks from working with his dad repairing vacuum cleaners. during the day he plays popular songs and at night when no one is really around he plays stuff he has written. she is a girl who moved to ireland from eastern europe with her daughter and works cleaning homes and selling roses on the street.
they meet one night when she stops to ask him about the song he just played, and Once is the story of their relationship over the course of the next week or so as they get to know each other and work to record his songs.
i know, i know, it doesn't have a web slinging spider person or lots of pirates (it doesn't have any pirates actually), but it is also one of the best movies i have seen so far this year (maybe the best so far).
Once is referred to as a modern-day musical, but don't let that word 'musical' turn you off. this isn't one of those musicals where people are breaking into song all over the place and using the words to tell the story. rather, the musical aspects of the film involve the playing of the songs that he and she have written. yes. they do tell us things about the characters, but in a much more real and genuine way then one is used to in the musical genre.
for example: one of the songs he sings was written about his ex-girlfriend and while the words and music give us insight into his emotions and feeling about her and their time together the song isn't a script or exposition piece. instead, the songs are just really good songs that provide a strong reaction and allow us into the heads of the characters from an emotional standpoint. i also appreciated that while it is a 'love story' and a drama it always felt real and didn't fall into the hollywood melodrama trap that it could have so easily done.
the film is so simple and yet so full of life and truth and honesty of character and story. the hand held camera and the wonderful songs all work together to draw you in. also, the performances are really good, which is maybe a little surprising given that the actors are actual musicians and the ones that wrote pretty much all the music (irish films to have a good track record of picking great musicians who can also act for their films - see The Commitments).
with summer blockbuster season in full swing and doing very well, smaller films need to fight to find an audience, so for the sake of great movies everywhere take the time to search out and enjoy Once.