This movie has been getting a lot of buzz lately and that usually means I probably won’t see it. But on the insistence of my most trusted movie critic friends I took the plunge.
Its hard to write about this film without spoiling some of its gentle power but I’ll try my best. The first thing I would say is don’t watch the trailer. As with most trailers it tries to sell a different idea of what this film is about. At its heart this is a movie about two things, two people and the music they share. Its kind of a musical but not in the cheesy way that musicals actually tell the story with song. The music scenes in Once just paint the emotional landscape and deepen our sense of the characters lives. It has to be said that if you hate the music you probably won’t like the movie that much. You can hear some of the music here…
But the most profound aspect of Once is the way it defies romantic cliches and portrays both main characters as complex, interesting human beings who you can actually imagine liking each other.
As Shameless has written before, this is a rare occurrence. I can’t actually remember seeing another film that has its love interests be so respectful and gentle with each other while they actually get to know each other in a genuine way. I can’t stand it when the “hottest” people in a movie meet and you immediately know that they are going to end up in bed together. Soon after this you watch the standard music montage that shows a couple walking on the beach, playing in the park, eating in a diner, etc, etc, blah blah. This is supposed to let you know that they now know each other well and like each other a lot. But you don’t really know why they like each other (especially because I usually don’t like either of them) or what they know about each other.
While you might think that watching two people actually be nice to each other might not make for interesting movie watching, I found Once to be an engaging and enjoyable film.
Understated, uncomplicated and satisfying without a Hollywood ending I would recommend this film to anyone who is tired of one-dimensional women and men playing out the same scenes again and again on screen.