Once (2006, John Carney)

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.


Author: alsolikelife

This is my pet project

  • http://memoriesofthefuture.wordpress.com jesse

    Glad you liked it. While it didn’t reach the stature of a [i]Little Miss Sunshine[/i] I think this could be called the indie hit of the summer, and it’s one of the few to actually live up to the hype. Beautiful little film.

  • zetes

    I should have responded to this a long time ago, but I’ve been lazy. Plus, the film has been such a hit at Landmark theaters that they’ve basically pushed all kinds of other movies off their schedule to keep it in. Including Brand Upon the Brain!, though that’s finally coming to town this week (not in Landmark theaters). I’m shocked that you liked the film, but very happy. It’s a simple, sweet little movie, and I think you hit the nail on the head with your review.

  • alsolikelife

    I always aim to suprise, zetes. But yes I genuinely enjoyed this film and it deserves all of its success. Quite an insipration to watch, really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/narinder.soorma Narinder Singh

    Personally I think you have to be really good to pull off something that seems as simple as this.