Running time: 1h 26min
Directed by John Carney
Written by John Carney
Starring Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Hugh Walsh
Musicals are not really my thing, but occasionally I am forced to watch them. Once stars two singer-songwriters who I had never heard of, in a story where not much happens. There is the possibility of romance in the air, but will it ever get there? Find out, if you care!
I usually recap the story of a movie at least a little bit when I do a review. Here there is not really much to say, nor is there much of a point. Two young people meet in Dublin, there’s music, there’s some hint of love, maybe, there’s some struggle, there’s some success. Eh. I never got into it, and I never really cared about the characters. I should note that it is not just me, even the woman who for whom I watched the film was unimpressed. But for some people stuff like this might click. It is quite hilarious, by the way, that Hansard’s character is credited as Guy and Irglová’s as Girl.
The acting is mediocre to ok. I think Hansard did well but Irglová was a bit weaker. Not that really makes much of a difference. I think the script is what’s lacking here the most — when you travel at a snail’s pace and by the time you get to your destination you notice that you haven’t really gotten anywhere anyway, all the while resisting the temptation to fall asleep, it is difficult to appreciate the journey. Visually the film is pretty good, and the music is decent. Sadly, it feels like the film was constructed entirely for people who are already fans of these two musicians, and it has very little to offer to those who do not already love their music or enjoy it immediately.
I will give the film some credit for not being altogether predictable and completely cliched. Even if you find yourself caring about these characters, which I did not, the story is just barely a story. The film had a budget of $150,000, so it could not realistically be as spectacular of a musical as some others (not that I am a fan of musicals in general, nor do I think every musical needs to be like that), but even so, something more interesting should have happened in the story for me to get attached to it. It is not a fair comparison, but while I found The Phantom of the Opera (2004) childish and at times laughable, the music and the scale were at least memorable and at times impressive. Once has no grandeur to it, and while only the script is really something you could say is bad, when the other parts of the film are mostly mediocre, there is very little to find pleasing about it. The music, which can make or break a musical, is not that enjoyable or memorable, but I suppose that might be my own bias.
I will reiterate that I am not the target audience for this film or even the genre. I would imagine that fans of these musicians will find enjoyment out of the film, but as it stands it’s just OK and mostly quite boring. It is by no means a bad movie, but it is painfully mediocre. I can understand if someone who is really into slow-paced kind of romantic kind of musicals loves this movie, but for me, seeing Once once was enough.
Rating: 5.5 / 10
Rating for fans of Hansard and/or Irglová: 6.0 – ?.? /10
Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 0
Would I want to rewatch this film? Probably not