I’m a pretty avid newspaper reader, and I try to keep current on things like movie reviews. That’s why I was pretty surprised when I read a bunch of year-end top 10 lists and saw a movie popping up that I had never heard about.
I finally got around to renting Once, and I can’t say enough about it. It’s real and honest in a way that so few movies are these days. With a small budget, modest production values, but a great story, it’s a breath of fresh air in a world of blockbusters and over-hyped vanity projects.
Once is a movie about that undefinable moment when talented musicians get together and everything just works. It’s a musical and a love story, but not in the traditional sense. Sometimes I think the marriage of music and drama in musicals can be a little forced, but here it feels completely natural. I guess that’s what happens when you hire real musicians instead of actors and treat the camera almost like a voyeur.
Glen Hansard, who wrote most of the music and plays the lead character, is my new hero. I’ve been fighting the urge all weekend to rush out, buy a guitar, and lock myself in my room writing melancholy songs of loss and regret. In order to truly plumb the emotional depths I may have to break up with B for a bit, but I’m sure she’d understand that I’d only be doing it for the music.
Anyway, if you haven’t seen Once, go out and rent it immediately. Then buy the soundtrack and play it incessantly for a week (it’s O.K. to sing along). Then we can talk about what kind of guitar we’re going to buy and which song we should learn first.
And finally, a warning. The Motion Picture Association of America, in its infinite wisdom, gave Once an R rating. This is a movie with no violence, nudity, drug use, suggestive language, nothing. However, the “F” word is used more than twice, and God forbid a 17-year old should be exposed to that kind of harmful influence.