Quickie: Once

OnceWhen a struggling musician (Glen Hansard) meets a girl (Markéta Irglová), the two of them decide to record an album together whilst trying to work out their feelings for each other.

Once was filmed on somewhat of a shoestring budget and it shows. The whole thing has the production values of a student film project, right down to the cinematography and editing; it just feels sloppy and amateur all too often. One thing that also jumped out immediately is that it comes across as little more than an advert for Glen Hansard’s, and to a lesser extent Markéta Irglová’s, music. There are several moments in the film where Hansard proceeds to sing one of his songs in full and the whole thing just feels like one of his music videos with some narrative tacked on. The music is generally pretty good, however, so fans of his will likely find enough to enjoy.

The films is billed as a sort of indie musical but it doesn’t come across as such. Musicals use the music to help tell the story whereas this seems to simply intersperse the story with musical interludes. Once does improve as it goes along and the non-formulaic ending is welcome. There are some nice sentiments to be taken away from the film and the performances are generally fine, but there’s not enough here to convince it’s a sum greater than any of its parts. The high acclaim is, quite frankly, bemusing.


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16 thoughts on “Quickie: Once

  1. Nostra says:

    So you didn’t like it as much. I really love the movie because of the story and the amazing music. Sure it has been made on a low budget, but I got invested in the characters and what was happening between them.

    • Nah it wasn’t for me this one. The music is really good, I do like Glen’s music having seen him play live a while ago. It did get better as it went along and the couple’s story did start to get interesting but I struggled to get past the fact that he’d stop every 5 minutes to play his guitar. I appreciate that a lot of people enjoyed this but it just didn’t work for me.

  2. sati says:

    I never got around to seeing it despite the fact I really enjoy the music.It seems like a lovely, but forgettable movie and I really don’t like watching such pictures, seems a bit like a waste of time for me. Maybe I’ll check it out on next Valentine’s Day, though ^^

    • It’s one of those films that I’d probably tell people to watch just because so many people seem to like it and it could just be me being an unromantic cynic 🙂 Valentine’s Day may well put you in the mood for it though, good idea!

  3. ianthecool says:

    This is a genuinely sweet movie, and I think that’s needed every once in a while. Its certainly more than just an extended movie video like you say, however. It has a lot to say about connections that people have to each other.

  4. Nice review. It’s been a long time since I watched this one but, from what I can remember, I pretty much agree with what you have to say.

  5. Beer Movie says:

    Interesting. I’ve been meaning to check this one out – I think that the reviews I have come across have been pretty uniformly positive aside from yours. Will have to have a look.

  6. Dan says:

    I was surprised by this. It was a musical without being a musical, a feature-length music video without being a music video. Suffice to say I enjoyed it and I think both of its leads are destined for big things.

  7. Nick Powell says:

    This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I really don’t think it looks that cheap (a lot of films from the UK have that gritty, almost-shaky cam quality to them) and I think that the music only helps the narrative. The two leads are not actors but they manage to tell a great story and I feel that they have good chemistry as well (they were dating in real life). Plus, Falling Slowly is one of the best songs from a film in the last 20 years or so. Beautiful.

    • Certainly seems I’m pissing into the wind with this one! 🙂 a lot of people like this film, but I just couldn’t get with it. The editing, cinematography and locations all reminded me a lot of stuff my classmates were doing when we made films in our university course, and I struggled to get past that – probably my own fault more than anything though. Maybe is will be one I revisit down the line and love it, who knows?

      Falling Slowly is a great song though. I saw Glen Hansard support Eddie Vedder a few months back and Eddie came out and they sung it together and it was fantastic.

  8. I don’t think it deserved the praise it got, but I still enjoyed it. Nice review.

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