‘Once’ Is Not Enough

It seems that summer is the perfect time for a surprise from the film industry. Last summer’s ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ was a breath of fresh air, with genuine characters and a heartfelt story. On a smaller scale, this summer’s breakout film is ‘Once,’ an Irish independent work, written and directed by John Carney, starring Glen Hansard of the Irish band The Frames, and Marketa Irglova. Set in working-class Dublin, Hansard plays a vacuum-repairing street musician and Irglova, a Czech immigrant who sells roses and plays the piano at a local music shop in her spare time. They may as well be playing themselves; Hansard began his musical career as a busker on the streets of Dublin, and Irglova is a Czech pianist.
Thus, from the opening of the film, as Hansard’s voice echoes through the late night Dublin’s empty streets, the film radiates an honesty that is often difficult to find during the summer movie season. Those unimpressed with this summer’s crop should take a short trip across the street to the Edwards Movie Theaters in the University Center to see ‘Once.’ It is an inspiring film about the positive impact one person can have on another’s life.
Hansard exhibits his capable passion and energy well throughout the film. Even if you do not find the music impressive, Hansard is undeniably passionate about his music. The film is an indie gem without being formulaic: quaint, quirky at times, not overdone, and emotionally uplifting.
Since opening late May, this $160,000 film has made almost $8 million in the United States, without ever playing on more than 150 screens. The film works well as an introduction to Hansard’s music as there have been many who exit the theater wanting to hear more.
Indeed, the success of the film has spilled over to Hansard’s music career. The Frames have played sold out shows during its summer tour in the United States, and Hansard and Irglova, collectively known as ‘The Swell Season’ (after their album of the same name) have had a very satisfying tour. The Swell Season will continue to tour the United States in November, and will play The Wiltern on November 10. These shows work well as a continuance to the film, a sort of subtle synergy for those who were particularly touched by the music in ‘Once.’