' ' Cinema Romantico: Once

Monday, May 28, 2007


Oh, heavenly father, what a magical movie this is. I know, I know, I know. You're thinking, what's the deal with Nick lately? Has he really become one of those guys who likes EVERYTHING he sees?

I assure you not. Maybe the stars are aligned. Perhaps the tide is high. Or something is in the air. Whatever it is, people, we're on a cinematic roll and I'm loving it. If "Waitress" was great, then "Away From Her" was slightly greater, and "Once" is greater than both of them put together.

The movie musical is not dead. That's what writer/director John Carney shows us with this film, and though it's not at all like old school movie musicals the music is still bountiful and the heart of the movie. It's more like an indie rock musical. The songs you'll find here are composed primarily on acoustic guitar, some on piano, and interwoven skillfully into the story. The story is about the music. The story is told with the music.

A Guy (Glen Hansard) plays guitar on the street corner in Dublin and is approached by a Girl (Marketa Irglova) wondering for whom he wrote the song. "She's gone," he says. "Not dead. Just gone."

She likes his songs. He invites her over to his place. He gives her a tape of them. They hang out. She plays something for him on piano. They sing together. They record a CD in a studio. Are they in love? Or are they merely each other's muse (which, let's face it, can be just as overwhelming as love)?

The Guy and the Girl communicate best - perhaps only? - through music. In everyday life they seem a lot more unsure. When she asks him again about that girl who's "gone" he strums his guitar and sings what happened. She has a scene later where she plays one of her songs for him and it's clearly her saying to him what she can only say through it.

Things will not be tidily resolved. They record that CD, yes, but what of it? Who knows? The movie does not say. Once they have finished recording the entire band goes to the beach with the recording engineer and goof around. There comes a moment, you see, when you have created a piece of art. YOU have. You put your mind to it, and you worked at it, and you accomplished it, and maybe no one will ever actually hear it or see it or read it or even like it but so what? You did what a majority of the population talks a great deal about doing but never actually does. This scene captures that feeling completely.

Of course, what would be the point of all this if the music's no good? Not to worry, though, because it is. Some of it is downright stunning. The song the Guy and the Girl play together at the piano store, watching the camera lilt back and forth between them, well, let's just say it caused goosebumps to ripple up and down my arms. One of those moviegoing moments when I nearly stood up and cheered.

I yammer on this blog (and in person) about films I adore and how people should see them and maybe those people will like them and maybe they won't. But I know the relationship many of my friends have with music. It's the same as mine. Passionate to a degree I don't have to time to sum up here. And if that's how you feel about music, then you should see this movie without delay. You will understand it. You will feel it, deep, deep down inside your soul. (You might even shed a few tears of cinematic happiness.)

I've seen a lot of great movies the last two years, no question about it, but I had not seen a masterpiece in those two years. I'm happy to report that has now changed.


The Fab Miss B said...

yea! eric and i just saw this to and loved it-and the non-hollywood ending? sososososososo good.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I saw it a 2nd time last night. I haven't gone to something twice in over a year.

Yes, it's just that good. Better, probably. But I'm not going to overhype it with another blog entry (even though I really want to).