It’s definite that John Carney has the key to making me love his movies. Once succeeds on so many levels for me with the story and the music. It’s style leaves a lot to be desired, but the story behind the style justifies it. This is a product of love and hard work and a great example of what film can be. I give Once the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
An Irish busker (Glen Hansard) is approached by a young immigrant (Marketa Irglova) and a musical bond is formed. The busker is inspired to record a demo and fly to London to win back his ex-girlfriend and achieve his dream.
The film looks a lot like a home movie. The lighting is all natural, the camera is often shaky, and the framing often leaves a lot to be desired. Yet, understanding that this film was made with a production budget of around $150,000 (according to Box Office Mojo) starts to make a little more sense. No permits were obtained so the shots of the busy streets were done guerilla style. The two leads are musicians first and yet manage to do a terrific job being charming.
I’ve listened to the soundtrack three times since watching this film before writing this review. The music that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova wrote for the film or performed is hypnotic. The passion that comes out in the music really makes the story in the movie. You learn so much about the characters through their songs and the stories connected to them. In truth, there isn’t a lot that happens in this film, but what does is amplified because of the music.
I think Sing Street is John Carney’s best, but Once is a prime example of dedication. Reading facts about this film only further cements that idea. I read he was inspired by friends who never went for it but would often say, “once” things were better they would try. It would have been easy to give up on Once when Cillian Murphy backed out of the lead and the investors followed. Instead, he went truly indie and made a film that brings inpiration to those who watch it.