Thursday, June 19, 2008

Irish Indie Love

Tonight I watched the movie Once, an independent film from last year made in Ireland by writer / director John Carney. The film was shot documentary style and follows the relationship of an Irish street musician and a Czech immigrant. The two meet on the street as the girl (the Czech immigrant) takes an interest in the local busker who plays original songs with a strong emo voice. Sort of like Gordon Lightfoot but with an Irish accent.

The orange haired musician (played by Glen Hansard) strikes up a friendship with the girl (played by Marketa Irglova) as her piano playing, angelic voice and moxie inspires him. The guy writes several songs about his broken heart but begins a musical partnership with the girl that brings out the best in both of them.

Once does a good job of capturing a sense of realism not only with the documentary hand held shot style but with seemingly ad-libbed dialogue. The characters come across natural and the duo have good chemistry (look at me, I can spell!) together. The songs are like a soundtrack to your last visit to Starbucks, acoustic instruments alternating between relaxing passages and emo quivering. It's a modern musical of sorts, heavy on realism until some of the music kicks in and the songs push the story forward.

By the end of the film, I found myself caring about these unnamed characters and their relationship that is both playful and tuneful. The song "Falling Slowly" won an Oscar for Best Song. Once has the right balance of independent film dreams and cinematic musical ambitions to entertain and move in a subtle way. A nice movie for a quiet night.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova "Falling Slowly"

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