So I saw this Irish musical film with two unnamed protagonists called Once directed by John Carney. It is an hour and a half film based in the streets of Dublin where the Guy (that’s what he is called throughout the film)played by Glen Hansard is a musician playing guitar on the streets trying to make a living for himself and his old father. He also works at Hoover repair shop owned by his father. During one of his late night gigs on the street where he is playing his own composition, a young Czech girl (played by Marekta Irglova) is impressed by his music. She insists on knowing if he has written the music for his girlfriend and he denies having one. Upon insisting, he confesses that his girlfriend left him years back and now he has nothing to do with her. During this short conversation, the Czech girl learns that the guy happens to be a hoover repairer and requests him to fix her broken vacuum cleaner.
The next day she gets her vacuum cleaner to the guy where he is playing a famous composition to which she quizzes him the reason for not playing his personal composition. He says that the crowd on the street during the daytime is busy and occupied with their work and themselves and hence they find it easier to connect to popular songs than self compositions. The girl confesses that she is a musician too and takes him to a piano shop where the owner lets her play for free. They both start singing one of the guy’s compositions which he teaches her on the piano and they both play the lovely song from the movie ‘Falling Slowly’. I like the lyrics of this song although my personal favorite out of all the soothing compositions is If You Want Me. Later, the guy sort of offends the girl when he asks her to stay back at his apartment after fixing her broken hoover, although he makes up for the silly gesture immediately the following day.
This is followed by a buzzing chemistry between the lead couple where the guy starts to motivate the girl and asks her to record one of his compositions along with him (that’s how the song If You Want Me shapes) and you cannot help but admire the lovely couple on screen. It is a plot where two heart broken souls come in contact with each other through the most powerful emotion evoking medium, that is music and help each other grow and open up like never before. He is heartbroken because his girlfriend cheated over him and she is living a clueless life away from her husband who probably has disowned her along with a toddler to take care of.
During one of their trips to the woods, the guy asks her if she still loves her husband she answers shyly in Czech saying ‘Miluju Tebe’ and refuses to translate the phrase in English (it basically means It is you I love). They decide to record a couple of songs before the guy plans to move to London to make a musical career and woo his girlfriend back. There are some amazing situational compositions that they record and the lyrics of the songs transport you in a different world altogether. Even you might start reminiscing about a loved one cause the songs sound real and simple to the ears as the singers have sung it from their hearts. Even during their private recording moments, as a viewer you secretly hope for some magic to happen so that the unsaid chemistry surfaces on screen.
It is not a happy ending that as an audience you would have expected cause the girl reunites with her husband and the guy gets on to make it big in London but before going he gifts her a piano so that she can continue pursuing her talent in which she excels. Before leaving, the guy calls her over to spend sometime and though she is aware of what would happen if they spend time together, she agrees to meet but later stands him up. The piano acts as a reminder that got them closer and served as a crucial element in their bonding. There is a happy yet aching feeling when the film ends because you are left wanting for more. The movie is emotionally gripping and you feel the pain, emotion and heart in every word and stanza of the lyrics as the lead couple sings it for you.
With the next film from the director Begin Again out in the theater, this film is a must watch for novices like me to get an idea of the filmography and style of direction that the director posses. It might not be the film to be looked at in terms of direction but the way John Carney has blended the story and the lyrics of the songs to present a marvelous musical is definitely worth a watch.