I want to introduce you an Oscar-winning movie that you’ve probably never heard of, and I would say is the BEST film you’ve probably never heard of – this movie is –
I was introduced to Once last year, it had totally passed me when it was released in 2006, but within the first five minutes I found myself in floods of tears and utterly hooked.
So – what’s the film about?
It’s the story of a guy and girl (neither have names) played by Glen Hansard (off of The Commitments) and Czech born Markéta Irglová. The guy is left heartbroken after his girlfriend cheats on him and moves back to London, and he finds himself living with his Dad back in Dublin. Earning a living busking in Dublin and working as a vacuum cleaner repairman he meets the girl, and well, the story unfolds.
The film was made on a tiny budget (around £100,000) and filmed in 17 days on two Handycams. There are no sets, most of the scenes were filmed on location with no lighting (other than natural lights). The street scenes were filmed without permits, and largely at a distance with long lenses to give it a more ‘natural’ feel. It’s clear from the get go this is a simple film, but the magic in Once doesn’t come from any gimmicks, it’s just naturally beautiful.
The music, penned by the stars, is simply wonderful, some songs so raw and passionate and others so breathtakingly delicate, it perfectly juxtaposes the unfolding story. The ‘Falling Slowly’ scene in the Piano store is so beautiful and utterly captivating. The director isn’t scared to have lingering scenes with little said, everything you need to know is conveyed in what you’re seeing or hearing in the wonderful songs.
It’s a film that deserves your time and attention, this isn’t really a ‘sling on and make dinner’ film, it needs a proper watch to captivate you fully. The short run time of less than an hour and a half won’t take up much of your day but it’s the sort of film that stays with you. I’ve been back to it a handful of times now and I still get something from it each time, and reading all the ‘Trivia‘ about it on IMDb has given me a new appreciation of how much effort went into getting this made.
Once went on to win an Oscar for Best Song, and get turned into a Musical which was in London up until March this year, and is now in Dublin. I *really* hope it comes back to England some time – I’m gutted I missed it!
If you’re a fan of good music, and willing to give a film you’ve never heard of a bit of time – I guarantee you’ll come out of it thanking me, it’s wonderful.
Oh.. And if you’re wondering what the un-subtitled response to the guy asking the girl ‘Do you love him?’ – you can find it in the spoiler tag below..
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