Monday, March 03, 2008

Once (2006)


I finally sat down and watched the movie "Once", and actually enjoyed it. I know this has been revered as the little movie that could, and its win for best song at the Oscars seems to bear that out, but actually it’s a good film. Written and directed by John Carney the film is about a relationship between two musicians. One is a street singer, and another is a young woman from Prague. Essentially the film is about the creative process, and most importantly the music. We are given back stories of the two main characters through the dialogue, and we find out that love is something both have in common. One who is nursing a broken heart, and another who is confused on what love is and should feel like. Through the music we hear their conflict, and what makes the film so special is that we are privy to the creation of some beautiful ballads.

What I found interesting about the film is the style the director used in creating the film. The film was shot for around $100K and was filmed with two Sony handycams. The feel is almost like a documentary, yet we are seeing a scripted film. Carney has said in interviews that he wrote a 60 page script, and improvised some of the scenes to get the feel that we are watching a documentary. What he also relies on are his actors. Both Glen Hansard who plays "guy", and Markéta Irglová who plays the "gal" are in real life friends, and have preformed together several times. There is chemistry already between the two, and the two actors work off each other well. It is this alone that sells the film. There is no doubt that filming with a small crew and actors the director already knew created just the right environment for the three of them to work off each other. It shows on film, and it works very well. I'm sure the director shot a lot more footage then he used, but that's what the DV format can do for you. The film was actually shot with HDV.

All the elements came together for this film, and if you tried and duplicated it you wouldn't be successful. Sometimes a bunch of artists come together and mesh so well that they create something that's better then themselves, and that's due to the fact that everyone had a hand in it. Film history is littered with such films.

Once is a film that does that. The film is a beautiful example of when talented artists come together and do great things. Yes the film is talky, and bit introspective, but at 85 minutes the film does a good job with its subject. I have to say that the subject of the film, and the way it was presented profoundly touched me. The DVD comes with several behind the scenes videos, which may shed some light on the creative process the filmmakers used.

I also have to comment on the music since the film relies heavily on it. The music meshes well with the film, and if you take apart the music and listen to the lyrics you'll even find deeper meaning to the film. Once is a film that probably will affect you for sometime after viewing it, and in a good way. Seeing this film validates my entire philosophy about filmmaking, and that is good films are being made here and now in the digital age. See it with someone you care about.

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