DVD review A lovely, low-budget, documentary-style affair often referred to as a "modern-day musical", but without a hint of cheesiness.
There's a scene in Once where a Dublin street musician (Glen Hansard) and a woman he has just met (Markéta Irglová) perform one of his songs in a musical-instrument store. They start off tentatively; it's the first time they have played together, and she has never heard the song. But they soon find a blissful harmony. It's a moment of pure poetry, enough to send shivers up the most cynical spine. Which is a lot like this film, a lovely, low-budget, documentary-style affair often referred to as a "modern-day musical", although this suggests a burst-into-song level of cheesiness that just isn't there. Music does inform every aspect of the movie, though, and the songs are wonderful nuggets of gentle indie rock written by Hansard of the band The Frames (he won an Oscar for his efforts). The story is deceptively simple. Guy (Hansard) and Girl (Irglová) meet, sing, and wind up in a recording studio one weekend to lay down Guy's tracks. Their relationship remains a question. We learn that he is pining for a girl in London and that she has a daughter, as well as a husband at home in the Czech Republic. We don't know what will become of these two slightly lost souls. But when their voices come together, they - and we - fall hard.