I have a rule when rating movies that I never give anything a ten on a first viewing. It’s only if the film can stand up to multiple viewings that it takes the step up. ‘Once’ is my first ever exception to that rule. It truly is one of the most wonderful films I’ve ever seen.
John Carney’s (director) debut feature tells the story of an immensely talented, but hopelessly unsuccessful, busker (Glen Hansard) on the streets of Dublin, who dreams of making music for a living. Then along comes a street-level flower salesman (Marketa Irglova), who’s the first person to stop and really listen to his music. Her interest sparks something inside him and the two of them spend the coming weeks composing and recording a set of songs together.
Watching the magic unfold really is beautiful, and the collection of songs – most of them written by the two leads – are fabulous. Even on their own, it would be one heck of an album, but given the pathos of the two leads and the charms of the movie as a whole, the songs are elevated to a higher art. Music has never felt so good.
Even the student film production values feel perfect. The whole piece feels low-fi and, as a result, immensely accessible. The cast are also excellent, in particular Hansard who gives a deftly poignant performance as the lost soul at the centre of it all.
Not only is ‘Once’ a great collection of songs and a beautiful love story but it’s also an ode to artists everywhere. Queue it up on Netflix and let it wash over you for 90 minutes, you’ll come out feeling cleansed and ready for anything that life can throw at you.