Now don’t let your heart start pumping when you hear the word “musical” if you haven’t watched Once yet. Everything about this indie film goes against what we understand as a musical. There are no testosterone-filled bodies dancing here. No Hollywood stars in flashy costumes lip-syncing to recorded music. No wonderfully choreographed big productions either. Think of Moulin Rouge or Chicago or West Side Story and strip them bare naked. What remains are touching sincerity and beautiful music.
The movie stars real-life musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and the scenes are shot with cameras far from the actors giving the movie a feel of authenticity. It feels as if we are watching a couple having a lovers’ quarrel and the couple don’t know that we are watching them so they don’t hold back emotions or words. All songs in Once are sung and accompanied live by Hansard and/or Irglova except for that scene when the character of Irglova went out to buy batteries for her CD player and she sort of sings to herself while a recorded instrumental music accompanies her song.
The songs, oh the songs. If you have just been out of a relationship or are deeply in love with someone you can’t have, I suggest you don’t watch this movie. At least, not anytime soon. The songs will tug at your heart and pull your soul down that lonely place from which poets fetch their lonely words. Even if you mute the volume so as not to hear the songs, you won’t escape raw emotions when you watch Hansard sing (even if mute). Hansard sings as if every word that goes out of his mouth is a baby going out of a mother’s womb. It’s not a nice image but you’ll understand when you watch Hansard. There’s so much passion and sincerity you want to hug him every time he sings.
The story doesn’t confuse us with sub-plots and hard-to-remember characters. Basically, it’s the story of a boy who meets a girl. Boy fell in love. Girl liked him back. Boy got inspired and suddenly decided to push his life forward. Girl puts her life on the right track too. And then, I’ll hang it here, no spoiler.
So, as the movie’s tagline says, how often do you find the right person? Once. The person may leave or stay but meeting that person is not coincidental. You meet because the meeting, like the meeting of the cue ball and the colored ball on a billiard table, strikes your life and changes its direction. This is how inspiring this movie is, it makes me want to write about coincidences and life directions.
Anyway, I leave you with the song from this movie. The title of the song is “Falling Slowly“. In my opinion, it has one of the most beautiful words in any song. I hope you watch the movie more than once in your lifetime and be inspired. Be inspired.