Monday, January 14, 2008


Once (John Carney, 2007) [6]
I don't what all the critical admiration about this was about because I find nothing that spectacular about it. The songs are good but not great. The film is well-made with the exception of a couple of shoddy scenes but nothing about it or its story really move me as much as some of the gushing reviews. Glen Hansard (of the Irish band The Frames) plays a street musician yearning to make a career in music. One night playing his songs, he meets a Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova) who appreciates him. The film follows the two as they begin to collaborate on music, hoping to make a demo to send to London. The couple also happens become very fond of each other, even though the Guy maybe has a girlfriend in London and the Girl has a husband still in the Czech Republic, with whom she has a daughter. It's really the complexities of this relationship that the film centers on. As the couple go deeper into their collaboration, it becomes clear that these are relatively lonely people happy to have found someone who shares the same interests. Give Carney credit for this: he doesn't take the easy way out. It's not so simple that these two will fall in love. The Guy's career ambitions will take him away from Dublin and the Girl, who herself wants to her husband to be around to raise their daughter, however begrudgingly. By the time that the two are recording their songs for a demo, it's pretty clear that this relationship will be fleeting. My problem is that I never really have any emotional response about this relationship until this point. Up until this conflict point, the film kinds of just ambles along with no real resonance for me. The ending is different however. It's bittersweet feelings are the most powerful moments of the film, even without the music. Carney achieves this by being a little more strict with the camera and tighter with his composition. The film is just too loose and the camera movements a little too wild to really keep a tight focus on what's going on in the film. The music makes up for this but then again, I liked some of the songs but never really loved any. I guess that's one of the keys of Once; if you like the songs, you'll like the film. In going a little deeper beyond them, I see a nice little film but nothing great.

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