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227 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy meets Girl and they literally make beautiful music together
This is one of those rare movies that defies any neat classification. It isn't a traditional love story by any stretch. Though it is filled with music from beginning to end it isn't really a musical. In the traditional musical characters will suddenly burst into song but it represented an interruption in the otherwise semi-realistic tone of the movie--think of Gene...
Published on June 9, 2007 by Robert Moore

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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Once DVD Playback not accurate (NTSC U.S. Version)
I am one of many people who have been changed by the movie "Once." I saw the movie several times in the theater and I know the soundtrack in and out. I was also fortunate enough to see the Swell season three times here in Chicago. I am a musician and I appreciate the sincerity of the film and the way the songs told the story.

I just purchased the Once...
Published on December 19, 2007 by Leo


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227 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy meets Girl and they literally make beautiful music together, June 9, 2007
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This is one of those rare movies that defies any neat classification. It isn't a traditional love story by any stretch. Though it is filled with music from beginning to end it isn't really a musical. In the traditional musical characters will suddenly burst into song but it represented an interruption in the otherwise semi-realistic tone of the movie--think of Gene Kelly in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. But all the songs in this film are in line with the overall realism of the film, they are all songs that occur in normal life.

I don't want to reveal much in the way of details about the movie since much of the joy of the film is discovering the ways it defies expectations. In broad outline it is about a street singer who has put his emotional life on cold storage because of a broken heart and the woman he meets who helps him open himself back up to life. During the day in Dublin he sings familiar standards for tips but at night, when the crowds thin out, he sings his own original material. We see him this way for the first time through the eyes of the Girl as she first meets him (in the credits the two lead characters, never addressed by name, are listed as Guy and Girl). He, played by Frames' frontman Glen Hansard, is singing an absolutely stunning song with intense passion. As he finishes, the camera pulls back to reveal her standing there. From thenceforward we see the two of them get to know each other as they perform a string of amazing songs together.

Neither Glen Hansard nor Markéta Irglová is a professional actor. Hansard did have a prominent role in another great Dublin film about music, THE COMMITMENTS. In that one Hansard played the band's guitarist Outspan Foster, one of the two original members of the band (he is the one who resists the suggestion of the other original member to call their band A Flock of Budgies). In real life, of course, Hansard has long been the resident genius of the great Irish rock band The Frames and both one of the great singers in rock as well as an absolutely brilliant songwriter (neither of which anyone who sees this movie will be inclined to doubt). While visiting Prague a couple of years back he met a precocious teenager who was none other than Markéta Irglová. One thing led to another and within a year of their meeting they recorded and album together entitled THE SWELL SEASON. Next they appeared in this film by John Carney, himself a former member of The Frames. So their time together has been amazingly productive (she also appeared on the critically acclaimed new album by the Frames, THE COST).

The film is filled with wonderful little moments, like the first meeting (driven by Hansard's magnificent performance of "Say It To Me Now"). Or the way the sound engineer recording the Guy's song goes from disinterest to interest as he realizes just how good he is. Or the marvelous extended shot that follows the Girl from a convenience store where she has bought batteries for a CD player down the street for a few blocks as she sings the lyrics she has written for a song the Guy has written the music for.

This truly is a very special film. It does not have the greatest production values; indeed, it feels like the low budget that it is. It works because the two leads, while not professional actors, have a wonderful chemistry both romantically and musically and because Glen Hansard is one of the finest songwriters around. In fact, the soundtrack for the film has to go down as one of the greatest soundtracks ever released. I would urge anyone who loves the music in this film to investigate not merely the soundtrack for the film, but both THE SWELL SEASON, the album by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, and two albums by the Frames, FITZCARRALDO and THE COST.

Update 8/8/07

I just read today on IMDB.com that Twentieth Century Fox, which owns the distribution rights to the movie, has been so pleased with its performance so far - nearly $7 million in box office on only 140 screens - that they are going to release it to a much larger number of screens and give it a publicity push. Obviously this means that this gem will be granted a much larger audience. Hopefully it will garner the kind of acclaim it deserves.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unforgettable Film, April 17, 2008
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This review is from: Once (DVD)
An Irishman (Glen Hansard) in Dublin is a vacuum repairman by trade, but musician by heart and he plays his songs on the streets. There he meets up with a Czech immigrant (Markéta Irglová) they strike up an easy friendship over their love of music and of course, a broken Hoover.

Over the next couple of days they share their music, write songs together, and then eventually record an album. All the while they are building a friendship that borders but never crosses to romance because of his love for an ex and her rocky marriage.

The music was written and performed by the actors and the result is magical. As I sit here typing this review, the songs are happily playing in my head; memorable melodies and haunting lyrics. The credits had barely started rolling when I hopped online to order the soundtrack. He plays guitar and has a voice that is sexy and powerful. She plays the piano and has a voice that is sweet and angelic. Together they are superb.

There is something so sensual about really good music, the way every note and word can touch every inch of your soul and take over your heart. I was literally moved to tears by a few of the songs in this film, not because they were sad, though some were, but because they were so beautiful, so perfect.

Every ONCE in a blue moon I will watch a film that will captivate me from the start and stay with me long after it's over. This is one of those films. It touched me on so many different levels and evoked so many different emotions and thoughts. I will watch this movie, listen to its soundtrack, repeatedly, and never tire of it, because it's just that good.

The storyline is bittersweet and eloquent; a modern day musical about two people at a crossroads in their lives when they meet. Each one gives the other one the shoulder and the shove they need to get on with and get what they want out of life. A simple, but magnificent film with amazing music and actors; the result is unforgettable. Brilliant.

Cherise Everhard, April 2008
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming, real film.., June 23, 2007
I decided to see this on a whim, not really knowing what it was about. It was just what I needed. As someone who has been going through a lot of stress lately and not really listening to music, it reminded me to bring the music back. If the songs were not good, there is no way that I would have made it through the film.

A man and a woman meet while he is playing guitar and singing in the street for money. She wants to hear more. He is a little jaded from his last relationship, but he can't help but like her. Later on, he finds out that she plays piano and they come together in the piano store to play a song together. That was my favorite song in the movie. I found myself glued to the screen, and then, my mind wandering, because it reminded me that I need to discover some new music.

Things don't always end in life they way they do in Hollywood movies (and I'm glad for that) but you still can't help dropping a few tears. So touching and beautiful. I will definitely buy the soundtrack.
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102 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Find. A Beautiful Film., May 31, 2007
By 
thornhillatthemovies.com (Venice, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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"Once" is a real find. The story of a street musician who meets a Czech émigré on the streets of downtown Dublin, is a believable, well-made film about love, dreams and making things happen.

Guy (Glen Hansard, a real musician who also appeared in the film "The Commitments"), a street busker who sings his heart out on the streets of Dublin, works in his dad's vacuum repair shop. One day, a young lady (Marketa Irglova), a Czech immigrant, begins to ask him questions about his music, his passions, the inspiration for his ballads. They form a friendship and she encourages him to follow his dream and put together a demo album. As the friendship grows, she helps him negotiate a recording studio and practice the songs. In the process, she invites him into her home, to meet her mother and young daughter. During the course of their relationship, they grow closer, but she is still married and can't let anything happen. They round up some other musicians and begin to work on the demo, to help him with his dream.

"Once", written and directed by John Carney, is a very intimate look at the relationship between these two people. A lot of handheld camera work, close shots and grungy, real locations help to give the film an incredible cinema verite look and style. The camera work is handheld, but not overly shaky, creating shots with an intimate, close appearance, really thrusting us into the middle of the action.

The relationship between Guy and Girl (as they are listed in the credits) is really an interesting one that draws you into their lives. Initially, the guy is a bit put off by the girl, she is extremely chatty and forthcoming, asking him a lot of questions about his music, why he sings certain songs, the inspiration, etc. As a street musician, he is naturally a little weary about people getting too close, he simply wants them to enjoy a little of the music and drop a couple of coins or bills into his guitar case and leave. So, the young woman who stops to ask questions, in her accented English, is a minor annoyance, until he realizes she is genuinely interested.

As their relationship grows, he feels a fondness for her, and as a single man, he naturally flirts with her. But when she realizes this is going too far, she gives him a little look, a minor reprimand, and he realizes she is right. They are friends, sharing an experience. And she is married, even if her husband still lives in the Czech Republic and they are having problems.

As they become friends, they become involved in each other's lives. He meets her mother and daughter, sees where she lives, has dinner at their house. She meets his dad and becomes involved in his making of a demo album.

When the duo shows up at the recording studio, with their fellow street musicians, the sound engineer greets them, but secretly reveals his true feelings to someone on his cell phone. He has a feeling this group is another example of people with too much ambition and not enough talent; they don't even know the technical details of recording the music. But when they start playing, he recognizes they have talent, the songs are good, and the lead singer, our guy, is quite good, so he becomes engrossed in making the demo as good as possible. He becomes a part of their team, investing part of himself in the production of the demo.

Part of the beauty of "Once" is that nothing seems forced. They don't have sex, simply to make the story more dramatic. In fact, the course of their relationship seems all the more real because they simply remain friends, close friends invested in each other's lives and livelihood. There aren't any manufactured crises involving her mother and baby or his dad. They simply struggle with real life.

Also, the music is quite good throughout the film. Guy sings a song, a love ballad he wrote for his girlfriend who moved away to London, a few times, each time making it a little better. Finally, when they record it for the demo, it is as good as it could be, with the girl playing keyboard and singing backup and the addition of the other musicians they have recruited.

"Once" is a film about the guy following his dream. He wants to make a demo and travel to London, to try to get a contract. But perhaps more importantly, he wants to reunite with his girlfriend. All he needs is a little push, a little support and guidance from a friend. He finds that friendship with the girl, his new friend who helps him realize he should go for his dream.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When Your Minds Made Up" ~ Emotional Scars, Self-Exploration And The Healing Power Of The Creative Process, December 25, 2007
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This review is from: Once (DVD)
The '07 release 'Once' certainly won't blow you away with state-of-the-art production values. In fact at times it will make you feel as though you're watching someones home movies. However once you move beyond all the usual Hollywood expectations of what a good film should be you'll find yourself deeply involved in this simple and sensitive story and personal invested in the charming relationship evolving between Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

Follow along as their chance meeting on the streets of Dublin turns into an opportunity for the two to explore their past failures and heartbreaks through the medium of musical composition. As their portfolio of songs grow the beginning sparks hinting at the possibility of something more between the two come into play. Will the musical muse give way to its kindred spirit Cupid, or is the music all they really share?

Terrific film from beginning to end with an excellent soundtrack comprised of the songs created by the two main characters in the storyline. This is what independent filmmaking is all about!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie! Great Music!, January 25, 2008
By 
This review is from: Once (Amazon Instant Video)
When I started watching this movie I had no idea of what I was getting into! It is definitely out of the ordinary! Very powerful and the soundtrack is amazing! I got the movie as a gift and bought the soundtrack immediately after I saw it! If you like irish folk music you're going to love this movie.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy from Amazon.UK its a lot cheaper!!, December 7, 2009
First let me say that this is one of the best low budget films ever made. It looks great on Blu-ray. Instead of buying it for $30 plus shipping from these Marketplace sellers, go to the bottom of this page and click on Amazon UK. I got my copy there for a little over $15 USD which even included shipping from England!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Only Musical to Excel in Realism., December 20, 2007
This review is from: Once (DVD)
"Once" is an attempt at a musical for modern audiences, in which the characters express themselves through music but don't burst into song in places where it seems inappropriate. The two main characters are musicians, so it's natural for their feelings to be reflected in the songs they write. A street musician (Glen Hansard) in Dublin, Ireland sings popular covers by day and is trying out his own music on passersby at night when a friendly and somewhat impertinent street vendor (Marketa Irglova) stops to talk. It turns out that she is a classically trained pianist from the Czech Republic. The busker never had much ambition, but he is inspired by a fruitful collaboration with his new friend and finally motivated to record his music.

You may recognize Glen Hansard as the frontman for the Irish band The Frames. John Carney, who wrote and directed the film, was formerly a band member. His philosophy in casting was to get "really good singers who can half-act" instead of settling for actors with mediocre musical talents. Hansard and Irglova are not professional actors, so "Once" uses a lot of long lenses by necessity. It's shot documentary style with some handheld work, but only occasionally shaky. The awkwardness of the characters' relationship and the man's palpable frustration create a strong sense of realism. Ironically, the only thing that feels self-conscious and inauthentic is that we so rarely hear the characters names spoken. Several of the songs are quite good, and they do, indeed, seem natural in their context.

The DVD (20th Century Fox 2007): There are 4 featurettes and an audio commentary. "Making a Modern Day Musical" (12 min) interviews John Carney about his inspiration and approach, working on a micro budget, non-actors, and Glen Hansard about writing the songs. "More Guy, More Girl" (9 min) talks to the director and actors about the characters' relationship and audience reaction. "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Guy" (1 min) is a webisode animated with stick figures. "Musical Commentary with writer-director John Carney and actor/musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova" takes us through the13 songs and fragments with commentary on filming and performing them. The audio commentary with John Carney, Glen Hansard, and Marketa Irglova comments scene-by-scene on characters, filming, the role of music, genesis of the project, locations, the director's intentions. Subtitles are available for the film in English, Spanish, French. Dubbing available in Spanish.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boy Meets Girl...and They Meet the Music in a Low Budget Charmer, June 24, 2007
I doubt if I've seen a film more unabashedly romantic in the past five years, and this small-scale 2007 film is a musical to boot. Even with its Dublin-set working-class veneer, the story is basic boy-meets-girl formula, but director/screenwriter John Carney's real-world treatment manages to transcend the conventions, even if only fleetingly, through the aching pop ballads which make up most of the soundtrack and the sincerity of the two leads. The plot focuses on an Irish street musician who plays Van Morrison hits for change during the day but reverts to his original compositions at night. Written for a long-established girlfriend who has moved away to London, his open yearning and musicianship attract the persistent attention of a young Czech girl. Despite his initial hesitation, they bond quickly over his music. There is a lovely scene in a piano shop where he sings and plays his well-worn guitar to one of his songs, a stunning heartbreaker called "Falling Slowly", while she tentatively accompanies him on the piano. The story simply goes from one number to the next while uncovering facts about the characters that guide their fate.

It's been sixteen years since his memorable turn as guitarist Outspan Foster in Alan Parker's The Commitments, but Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Irish rock group, the Frames, plays the forlorn busker with a searching intensity befitting a man not only broken-hearted from a fading long-distance relationship but also worried he will end up repairing vacuum cleaners just like his stoic father. Markéta Irglová has the quirky, endearing quality necessary to play the girl. But as musicians whose compositions supply the soundtrack, their acting is secondary to the music they play. Hansard's deeply felt music immediately brings to mind Damien Rice's and David Gray's melancholy folk-rock ballads, while Irglová provides a nice complement with a voice similar to Björk's plaintive style. I have to admit the low-budget production values (it was made for just $150K) does make itself clear with some shaky, hand-held shots and overly grainy film stock. But all in all, if you are a fan of any of the musicians mentioned and remain undemanding in regard to cinematic storylines, chances are pretty good that you will enjoy this little film enormously.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Once DVD Playback not accurate (NTSC U.S. Version), December 19, 2007
By 
Leo (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Once (DVD)
I am one of many people who have been changed by the movie "Once." I saw the movie several times in the theater and I know the soundtrack in and out. I was also fortunate enough to see the Swell season three times here in Chicago. I am a musician and I appreciate the sincerity of the film and the way the songs told the story.

I just purchased the Once DVD(U.S. Version - NTSC), and the experience was ruined due to the fact that the movie seemed to be playing back slower than normal making all of the songs play in a lower key, and all of the actor's voices lower than normal. I am not sure if this was noticed at the authoring house, but the final DVD is not true to the original recording. I tried the DVD in several different players, and even returned the first DVD but still had the same result with the replacement. I'm sure that many people will notice this right away. I also didn't like the airbrushed hand holding that was added and retouched on the DVD cover.

I still love the film, but the DVD is not a good reproduction.
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Once
Once by John Carney (DVD - 2007)
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