Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ONCE: Oscar-winning Modern Musical

ONCE (musical)

Cast: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (picture)
Writer-Director: John Carney
Time: 85 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (Out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Now, here's a musical that should work for those who don't like the idea of movie characters bursting into song every now and then. "Once" dispenses with such corny stuff and actually provides situations in which the songs are part of the storyline. This 2006 movie was the winner of the Sundance World Audience Award and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song ('Falling Slowly'), plus a dozen or so wins.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? An (unnamed) Guy (Glen Hansard) is a singer-songwriter who makes a living fixing vacuum cleaners in his father's repair shop by day, and busking on the streets of Dublin by night. An (unnamed) Girl (Marketa Irglova) is a Czech immigrant who plays the piano when she gets a chance, and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night.

Guy meets Girl, and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. Over the course of several days, the Guy and the Girl work through their past loves, and reveal their budding love for each other through their songs.

HITS & MISSES: "Once" is such a simple - and simplistic - story told in song that I would feel kindof strange to sing praises about it. Director John Carney films the senes documentary style, with shaky hand-held shots and poorly framed close-ups. This approach somehow changes halfway through the film and the scenes appear more polished by the time the movie closes with an impressive tracking shot.
The vocals are done by the leading couple so the songs sound naturally raw and real. They are a mixture of folk and rock and the singers are shown playing their instruments, often with great passion, but never do they break character and start doing something a person would not do in real life. The lead duo are surprisingly gifted performers although neither of them is a professional musician. The songs are rendered with the right emotions such that we too get engrossed in them.

THE LOWDOWN: Definitely a 'date movie' for music lovers and those who go for realistic love stories.


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