Once

The nominations:

  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song): Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

The Black-and-White:

I wish I could write more than I will about this wonderful movie. I am behind in my movie reviews, the Academy Awards are pending, and I need to focus on the actual nominations rather than my usual expansive, witty and insightful comments… Lucky you, gentle reader.

The synopsis from oscar.com:

An Irish singer-songwriter performing on the streets of Dublin befriends a young Czech immigrant who is selling flowers to support her mother and child. The pair begin a musical collaboration with the hope of producing a marketable demo, working together easily as they skirt the more difficult issue of the unexpressed attraction that is growing between them.

This is a relatively simple movie, but it takes familiar themes, recasts them into a fresh, new story and finds a charming, diverse and interesting set of characters to give it voice. Once works on so many delightful levels. At its core, Once is a love story. A story of triumph over adversity. The story of the “little guy”. A story about finding your voice.

There have been countless movies exploring such themes — indeed most good movies touch on at least one — but this film found ways to make it original. I actually think the following contributed plot synopsis on imdb.com captures much of this very well:

A Guy (with no name – Glen Hansard of the Irish band Frames) is singing his heart out on the streets of Dublin for tip money. One day a Czech Girl (with no name – Marketa Irglova) stops to listen to the Guy play his music. She is very impressed by his songs and she asks if he wrote his own music. The Guy says that he writes and loves to play his own songs to himself even if the street crowd wants to hear other music. It is nice to earn tips, but that is not what his music is all about. The Guy lives at home and helps his father repair vacuum cleaners, but he has a dream of becoming a recording star. His girlfriend of many years has just left him and is now living in London. You can tell what this has done to his emotions, because it is being reflected in his new songs. The Girl who happens to have a broken vacuum cleaner also has a musical background of playing the piano and writing songs. Their music brings them together and the Girl begins to help the Guy realize his dream. They begin to share their music and their feeling for each other. They put together a band with other street players and rent a recording studio for the weekend to record two demos. This could be the start of a new and wonderful life.

One of the many strong features of this film is that the story doesn’t take the easy choice at its climax. Guy and Girl do not hook-up. They find something deeper, and more meaningful. And there were no silly, unbelievable, sex scenes that seem to be a mandatory addition to most movies of this ilk. Well done – this movie found a complex and much more rewarding new way.

Now I know for you Die Hard fans, this might be seeming like an unmitigated, unapologetic chick-flick. Well, it is. Sort of. But it’s delightful, original, insightful, and fun. Girl-up you manly-men, and get in touch with your inner Streisand. You won’t be disappointed.

In terms of the nomination for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture (Original Song), this film more than deserves Oscar. I haven’t seen Enchanted yet, which, with three nominations in this category, probably must be considered the front-runner. However Once would strongly contend with any film in any year in this category. Bravo.

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