Starring: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Hugh Walsh
Director: John Carney
Running Time: 85 mins
Once is an Irish film about a busker and an immigrant who fall in love over the course of a dramatic week, telling their story through the magic of their own music.
I like thoughtful independent films as much as the next person, they always manage to avoid the cheesy pitfalls that Hollywood can’t, but here, it was just not as engrossing as it needed to be in order to be fully enticed in the romance.
And that problem comes very simply in how much of a fan you are of music as an art. The message of this film seems to be about how music brings people together, whether it’s just into a band or into a deep romance, and it really shows that by how prolific and significant the songs are in this film.
However, there’s one problem with that. Every song is played the whole way through, and while it tells the story of these two people’s love, it grows absolutely tedious. Suffering a bit from the problems encountered by Les Misérables, you’ve got to be interested and touched enough by music and lyrics to fully get into the depths of this story.
So you can tell that I’m not the biggest fan of music, and that may be why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I expected to, but I have to say that some of the songs in this film are actually fantastic. They are deep, emotional and entertaining, the sort of thing you’d expect to hear on the radio at any time, but in the middle of a film, when you want things to keep moving, the periods where the songs are being played are more a statement of love than any extra development in the story, and added to the fact that they go on for so long, they do become tedious.
Away from the music, however, there are some other good and bad elements of this film. On the good side, it’s quite quirky and funny, while the two main characters are lovely enough for you to not be put off by their romance, but on the bad side, it’s just too slow-moving and reliant on the music to be properly interesting, and that’s why it gets a 6.5.