Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Once

Monday, February 18th, 2008

My faith in local radio may just have been restored by a movie, of all things.

Kacey listens to the radio in the car and one day she heard some song and the DJ mentioned something about it being from a movie called “one” or something.  When she tried to find it on Netflix, she found a movie called “Once” that seemed close enough.

I knew that it was about a busker (Glen Hansard) and a woman that he meets on the street (Markéta Irglová), and that was about it.  It opens with a guy standing on the street in what looks like a pretty nice commercial district, singing and playing a guitar.  He seems to have a pretty good voice, but he has to stop singing soon because a junkie steals his guitar case with the money in it.  It turned out that scene was really the only one to try to delve too much into what it’s like to be a busker.

After that the title credits start, over a long slow zoom into him singing a whole song, a song that is captivating from the start.  I realized right away that we were in for a bunch of incredible music, as long as the story could stay out of the way of him playing.  And as it turns out, the star of the film is his music.  There’s a loose plot about him meeting a girl and them making some music together and becoming friends-maybe-someday-lovers and then them parting ways after an epic recording session, but in fact a lot of the movie is just singing and playing.  When you read that description, it seems like it’d be boring, but in fact it’s riveting.

The reason is that Hansard and Irglová aren’t really actors, but musicians who got talked into acting, instead of the other way around.  It turns out that Hansard is famous in Ireland as the leader of a band called The Frames, which you can bet I’ll be checking out, and he’s an absolutely incredible musician.  A lot of singer/songwriters have an obvious imbalance between singing and playing, a strength that they naturally play to.  But Hansard seems to know just the right balance to strike between the guitar and his voice, and he’s got a voice to remember – gritty and soulful, with a hint of a growl that can swing up into a falsetto in one strum.  She’s a less obviously talented musician, but she’s a good partner for him in the scenes where they make music together.  She plays subtle piano and has a sweet soft voice to back him up.

The main characters are just called “guy” and “girl” in the credits, but it wasn’t even till we saw the credits that we realized we never learned their names.  That’s the kind of spell it puts on you – you are so much a part of their world that you forget about the usual conventions of movies.  The plot doesn’t move too much, and it doesn’t resolve in a way that you’d expect, which alone is plenty refreshing.

I’ve always loved music, and I’ve always wondered what it would really be like to be one.  Watching “Once” brought me closer than any concert tour documentary or biography could.  And I’m so grateful to have discovered Hansard and The Frames.  I can’t wait to get ahold of some of their albums!