Sunday, June 17, 2007


It’s not the marvelous acting – as pure, raw, and layered as it is.

It’s not the music. Sure, probably half of the film is music, brilliant songs that carry the heart, text and subtext of virtually every scene.

No, I think it is the simplicity.

The complex simplicity that leads to the aching beauty.

ONCE is a beautiful gem of a movie. Writer/director John Carney keeps it sweet and simple, allowing the minimal storytelling to flow without heavy exposition, distracting visuals, or overwrought acting.

This movie is the Fred Astaire of film – achieving a complexity of movement with impossible technique, all the while looking effortless.

We haven’t seen that in a long time.

Nor have we seen something else in a long time: a love story about love.

In the past several decades, we have moved as a society towards a facile viewing of intimacy, a generalizing of love, a watering down of passion. The notion that love is special and extraordinary has been replaced in the cultural psyche with a sentiment more common and rather easily replaced.

Sure, when watching a YOU’VE GOT MAIL, for instance, it would be sad if Hanks doesn’t end up in Ryan’s bed. But not devastating, as we know that Hanks will end up in another’s bed by the day after tomorrow; as will Ryan. They both start the film in intimate relationships; they will find such relationships again.

It is harder for romance to resonate.

ONCE resonates.

I won’t tell you too much on how they do this – I would rather you found the movie and experienced it for yourself.

But I will say this: the film embodies the reality of our desire to make intimacy facile; and at the same time embraces the virtues of fidelity, devotion and compassion.

But you don’t need to know any of that. What you need to know is that this small movie (running under an hour and a half) is delightful.

And entertaining.

And achingly beautiful.

Just my thoughts,


Ps. This movie is rated “R” for language. Lots and lots of language. The “F” word is bandied about with excessive frequency. Of course, it is done in Irish accents, with an “oo” as in “coo” in the middle of the word, as if pigeons were warbling the lines. A dove talking about his cooing hard times in this cooing world of broken cooing hearts – well, that might ease the sting of the vulgarity a tad. But I wanted you to be cooing warned.

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