“Once” , within the first five minutes, makes you forget whether you have an extra pair of clean socks for tomorrow’s work or whether you should leave the vessels in sink postponing dishwasher duty.
It transports you into the streets of Dublin making you a part of struggling guitarist life playing for money as well as testing his skill in music. You smell the streets he is playing in and you feel the pain in his songs. The movie is shot in handheld camera which adds to the power of this extraordinary storytelling.
The protagonist is not given a name, neither his love interest and you realize that you don’t care as you understand them at a deeper level in your heart. The story of “Once” is about a struggling guitarist’s friendship with a Czech woman who plays the piano and helps him with his lyrics. This friendship starts with the mutual admiration of talent with the guitarist asking at the end of first date if he could sleep with her. It is in this scene that you realize the depth of the characters, the awkwardness, elegance and our choices in times of loneliness. The Czech lady rejects him without angry outbursts or sad storming out from his room. She tells him a simple, firmest, NO. The character of Czech lady is that of a simple, extremely straight forward, self contained,honest hardworking,realistic woman. Marketa Irglova, the lady who plays the Czech woman, transcends beyond her nationality and reminds you why we watch movies.
Having removed sex from the equation, the guitarist makes up for his lapse wanting a true friendship, learning she has a daughter and mother living with her. She helps him with his lyrics and they develop their unpretentious love for each other.
Is it Love ?a shoulder to lean on each other ? creative energy and mutual admiration of each other ? or just plain companionship in the lonely world ? Perhaps its a mixture of all those things that makes this movie GREAT! And every mood is captured in the songs they sing whose lyrics make you pause, reflect and quietly stirs your melancholy.
Perhaps the Greatness of this movie lies in the fact that it is so strongly rooted in reality with the Guitarist still pining for his lost girlfriend and the Czech lady knowing she has a husband back in her home country,yet, you see this rare, connected, untarnished friendship that can be called nothing short of love develop between these two artists who has portrayed it so honestly that you are right there with them in every scene. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova truly lives their characters making you believe them every moment on screen and making you yearn for them to be together.
The Guitarist records his album and goes to London for better opportunities. The Czech lady’s husband comes to Dublin. Their love lingers in their music through the piano the Guitarist gifted the Czech lady and you are left with a lump in your throat at the end yet you are happy for having been a part of their lives.
Art is best when it imitates life! Life is empty without Art!
“Once” is pure art reflecting hard Life, hard choices, capturing tender moments that sink deep into our hearts long after the movie has ended!
It is a rare gem that happens only “once” in a very long time!