Critics Consensus

A charming, captivating tale of love and music, Once sets the standard for the modern musical. And with Dublin as its backdrop, Once is fun and fresh.



Reviews Counted: 156

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 190,966


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.1/5

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Movie Info

"Once" is a modern-day musical set on the streets of Dublin. Featuring Glen Hansard and his Irish band The Frames, "Once" tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.

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Bill Hodnett
as Guy's Dad
Danuse Ktrestova
as Girl's Mother
Gerard Hendrick
as Lead Guitarist
Darren Healy
as Heroin Addict
Marcella Plunkett
as Ex-Girlfriend
Paul Clarke
as Shop Assistant
Maire Walsh
as Lady on Bus
Witold Owski
as Man Watching TV
Hugh Walsh
as Timmy Drummer
Tomek Glowacki
as Man Watching TV
Sean Millar
as Bank Manager
Attila Kouvacs
as Man Watching TV
Pete Short
as Singer at Party
Bob Hoban
as Shop Assistant at Bogarts
Dave Cleary
as Host at Party
as Hari Krishna
Keith Byrne
as Guy in Piano Shop
Krzysztos Tlotka
as Man Watching TV
Senan Haugh
as Husband
Catherine Hansard
as Singer at Party
Fergus OFarrell
as Singer at Party
Martina Akindojctimi
as Person On Stoop
Ruslan Mannanu
as Person On Stoop
Francis Usanga
as Person On Stoop
Price Tylot Khumaho
as Person On Stoop
Joe Adebe
as Person On Stoop
Bernard Gibsenen
as Shop Assistant
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News & Interviews for Once

Critic Reviews for Once

All Critics (156) | Top Critics (45)

So this is how you make a low-budget musical these days!

Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In an era when Hollywood has largely lost the ability to distinguish between romance and sex, Once is the rare film that recognizes that love is no less love for being held in check, it is merely a different kind of love.

Sep 18, 2008 | Full Review…

Once doesn't plop its emotions on its characters' sleeves, and it trusts us enough to leave some of the best stuff unstated. In other words, it trusts us to know that half the music lies between the notes.

Dec 19, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A soulful valentine to music, friendship and the joys of honest hard graft, played out in the bedsits and recording studios of a deglamourised Dublin.

Oct 19, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

This Irish film has simplicity and it makes the film seem like something new, even though it comprises familiar elements.

Aug 31, 2007 | Full Review…

Forget everything you think you know about the movie musical, one of the more predictable genres. With Once, writer-director John Carney deconstructs it and reinvents it as something wholly new, inspired and alive.

Aug 9, 2007

Audience Reviews for Once

This beautiful story of two musicians becoming friends (and more?) on the streets of Dublin is a little wonder of a film. Not only does it feel very fresh, natural and real, the movie doesn't even need a lot of words to make us feel for the two lovely main characters. The songs they sing do not feel out of place or forced into the scene, like in many other musicals, but as an important part. When they sing "Falling slowly" together for the first time in an instrument store it's impossible not to fall for this film. Of course it helps that the rest of the songs are just as wonderful. The sweet humor is another plus and so it feels those 95 minutes are over way too quickly, and we would have loved to follow those two around a little longer. Wonderful, touching, lovable.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

John Carny knows how to direct performances and incorporate music very well, because every single scene throughout this film feels true and natural. The shaky camera in almost every scene was odd at first, but you become so used to it that it feels like it is a part of their unbalanced lives. I feel like there are so many hidden messages throughout this film that I feel the need to watch it again to find them all. The two leads are fantastic and I really bought their connection. "Once" is a very well-written romance film that is not really like your average Hollywood tale, which is why I loved watching it so much. I do not love many romance films, simply because I find it hard to believe the connection most of the time, so a film really needs to impress me with it's chemistry and dialogue. This film delivers performances and dialogue better than almost any romance I have seen in a long time. It felt very "Before Sunrise-ish" to me, and that is what sold me. "Once" is a very well put together film, the musical aspects are great and the atmosphere is vibrant. Loved every minute.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


The original twisted musical, "Once" is full of simple beauty, small, quiet scenes, and some very inspiring music. Technically this is a musical because the characters are expressing their emotions through the medium of song. It doesn't have any of the grandeur of original movie musical. All of the songs are original, written by stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. They both play musically talented people, on guitar and piano, who bond over their love of his music. They talk mostly about music, but as Glen or "The Busker" realizes his obvious attraction and eventual love for her, they find that there are obstacles to them being together. Marketa or "The Girl" is a character that is very forthcoming, who is interesting, sweet, and intelligent, and yet she is stuck in a life as a recent immigrant and single mother. Glen, in contrast, is living off the tips he gets from playing guitar in the street, and his work at his father's vacuum cleaner repairing business. They complement each other so easily, and as the songs become more and more about the two of them and less about Glen's former girlfriend, we feel the true love between these two characters. Glen is still hung up on that former girlfriend at first, but when he falls for Marketa, it's hard and difficult and so painfully adorable. He is the definition of a lovesick puppy, and Marketa is nearly oblivious to their rendezvous and shared experiences. In the end, it's painfully clear that Marketa does love Glen, but the burden of her difficult life, and her own fear at what could be, comes between them and ultimately makes for a heartbreaking and frankly tear inducing ending. It was just so understated, so lovingly determined to show love in its earliest stages, and how two people can understand so much about music, but nothing about their own desires.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

the music is great

Spencer Macklin
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

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