There’s nothing more frustrating than having your best-laid travel plans completely fucked up by an unscheduled bit of screwery on the subway. Today was a lovely day and I had a screening in midtown Manhattan, so I decided to take the 4 express train in and walk across town to the movie, while dropping in at a comic book store that I knew had the ‘That dog done got fucked up’ diorama for John Carpenter’s The Thing (the purchase of said item almost being an act of self-cock blocking). But the express train decided to take the local track behind a particularly slow train, and instead of having a leisurely 40 minutes to make it north six blocks and west four avenues, I came out of the subway with just a minute to spare until the screening began.
I ran all the way across town and ended up late for the movie. My mood was the exact opposite of the beautiful sunny day at that point – I had sat on that slow, often stalled, train and been stewing in annoyance. I was in a bad mood and had missed the first ten minutes of the movie – this film didn’t stand a chance with me.
Except that it completely won me over. The deck was stacked against Once, but when the end credits came up I was wiping a tear from my cheek, having fallen in love with this beautiful little musical love story.
I’ll review the movie for real once I’ve seen it again, but on one viewing Once is a strong contender for my eventual ten best of the year. The movie it most reminded me of, weirdly, was Hustle & Flow, in that it’s a musical about the creation of music, and that we get to experience the moments and thoughts and feelings that go into creating a song. The film is set in Dublin, where a street busker, played by real life musician and one-time member of the cinematical Commitments Glen Hansard, meets a beautiful Czech woman, played by multi-instrumentalist Marketa Irglova. They fall into friendship, and maybe something more, and together make gorgeous and heartbreaking music. Once is a simple movie, very low budget and without much in the ways of bells and whistles beyond the powerful talents of Hansard and Irglova and their electric connection. It's moving and wonderful, but never maudlin. The sign that a movie is magic is that you want to live inside of it. I came out of Once wanting to live in Dublin, to know these people, to sit in a recording studio with them as they created more amazing music..
Tomorrow is the press day for Once, and Hansard and Irglova will be performing songs – I couldn’t be more excited. Many of the songs from Once were apparently taken from their album The Swell Season, which you can get a listen to here at MySpace. There’s also a trailer for Once, but it’s massively misleading. I’ve attached it at the bottom of this article.
Once is out on May 18th. It’s a limited release, but I think it’s worth the effort to find and see in a movie theater. Movies like this don’t come around very often, and they tend to get lost in the shuffle of this, the beginning of the silly season. Once is a film worth supporting, and I think if you take a chance and see it you’ll find that Once is a movie you can’t help but love.