screened Thursday September 21 2007 at the Landmark Sunshine, New York City IMDb
With apologies to Bujalski, Swanberg and especially Filmbrain (I’m going to watch LOL ASAP, ISOMMG), I sheepishly admit that I haven’t seen any of the mumblecore movies as of yet (I was really swamped when they came to IFC not long ago). But Once strikes me as having pretty much all of the essential qualities of an exemplary mumblecore movie: an acting style that mixes awkward attempts at connection with disarming moments of unexpected camaraderie; grainy handheld video that alternates between being unattractively amateurish and bracingly direct in capturing moments of real-time splendor; and an overall ethos of unabashed emoting, in this instance a sincere yearning to resolve the equally seductive emotions of heartbreak and optimism. The highpoints for me are the first number performed by the two leads (Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova, both wonderful) and the extended rehearsal sequence; they both have an authenticity to them that transcends the rather stereotypical storyline framed around them, thanks to the fly-in-the-wall camerawork and some resourceful editing. The performances are as winning as they are unpolished. Personally I think you have to be really good to pull off something that seems as simple as this.