June 16, 2007

Once

Directed by John Carney Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Reviewed by Martin Tsai

Winner of an Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, John Carney’s Once is already possibly the most overrated baloney we’re likely to see this year. This musical romance is virtually plotless – it involves the unexpected encounter of some unusually craggy Irish aspiring rocker/part-time vacuum cleaner repairman (The Frames’ lead singer Glen Hansard) and a Czech domestic worker (Markéta Irglová) who happens to be a pianist. Their encounter leads to them making beautiful music together. And he repairs her broken Hoover. The end.

Despite the fact that the film has no real plot, it does have a pretty impressive soundtrack that sounds like Coldplay meets Matchbox Twenty meets The Wallflowers. Hansard and Irglová, who previously collaborated on the 2006 studio album The Swell Season, are responsible for most of the songs in the film. It’s mind-boggling that they don’t also receive screenwriting credits since, well, the film has practically no plot. Hansard gives an impassioned, star-making performance here, while Irglová’s character development seems a bit hazy.

Once is nothing much to look at. Musicals don’t have to be Technicolor extravaganzas, and Dancer in the Dark was able to achieve incredible scope with unpolished DV photography. By contrast, Once just resembles any amateur music video you can find on YouTube. Your money is much better spent on the soundtrack.

© Copyright 2007 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.