mardi 4 décembre 2007


I have to admit that I am an unabashed fan of musicals. My childhood is replete with songs from The Sound of Music , Annie and Mary Poppins. And who can deny the cool factor of Grease during its time? It’s therefore not surprising that I don’t find it at all strange when the movie includes people bursting into song or dance or both in a number of cases. Lately however, the genre has become notable for its immense budget and publicity but scarcely for story quality, and even worse for unmelodious songs. A recent case in point would be Dream Girls. Despite my readiness to like it (its Beyonce, after all!) it should have been left to the stage. So it was with low expectations that I went to see Once, a movie written and directed by John Carney, which featured quite prominently in the Sundance Film Festival. Fortunately for me, I was happily disappointed in my expectations.
Once is quite simply a jewel of a film. It’s a simple story of a guy and girl both involved with other people. Him with a distant ex- girlfriend, and her with a child, and an older husband left behind in the motherland. Their friendship is struck on the streets of Dublin where he plays music and she sells flowers. This friendship deepens over the course of their all too short musical collaboration but it is never allowed to go beyond a certain point. The girl always aware that she has responsibilities reminds him gently that to carry things further would be for naught (in her words, it would just be hanky-panky), and he, a kind person, never pushes her. The film has a moral tone but it is never heavy and both actors, who I understand are first time ones, are artless and charming. Their story is deftly told and it ends with a bittersweet note which upon reflection is the proper end for a story such as theirs.
But let’s not forget that this is a musical movie and the songs don’t disappoint at all. The music and songs are mostly original compositions written and performed by the actors, who not coincidentally are musicians. The guy, played by Glen Hansard is the lead singer of the Irish group The Frames while the girl, played by Market Irglova is a classically trained pianist. The music is never in your face, not even the rock style ones, despite the fact that it is an integral element to their story and to the film itself. For the most part they are quietly yearning songs, some are sweeping guitar- drum filled melodies, but always they are poignant and deeply felt. The tones stay with you, and several days after watching the movie, I am still humming them to myself. What a pleasure it is to watch a really good film with a truly enjoyable musical score that you can listen to long after the film ends.

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