ONCE. 2006

Director: John Carney

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A buskar (Glen Hansard) plays his own music in the streets of Dublin for spare change, though making his real living as a vaccuum cleaner repairman; as one hasty lyric describes him, he's "the broken-hearted sucker Hoover fixer guy."

OnceA Czech girl (Marketa Irglova) is drawn to his music,. As she's a trained pianist, they end up making beautiful music together, & even cut a record before she continues on her way.

Such is the simple outline of Once (2006), a superbly acted drama that has to be called a musical because there's a great deal of excellent music being performed, but with none of the affectation of being a musical, since it's totally realistic.

It is not a love story exactly, but a story of an amazing friendship predicated on shared music. The Czech girl is separated from a husband, & not inclined to cheat on her marriage vows. That fact is a transient disappointment for the buskar, but he quickly realizes he values the friendship foremost in any case.

The acting is so good that I could barely believe Glen Hansard could simultaneously be such a fine musician-songwriter, as he was responsible for the majority of the film's music, which quite rightly received the 2008 Oscar, shared with Marketa Irglova, in the Best Song category. They also shared a Grammy for best soundtrack album.

So it turns out Glen's not mainly an actor, but first & foremost the frontman for an Irish band, The Frames. Thus I'm shocked that such a good musician could just happen to be a fine, fine actor, though in an interview with the dvd, he thinks it works because he's just playing a role of a musician & it was no stretch.

Once is aching beauty throughout, with a seeming moral: Life is hard, you enjoy it or you don't.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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