Rainer's Review of Once
Once I saw a stylisticly wonderful film that combined astonishing cinematography and mumblecore-esque qualities with musical.
After the cinematic fireworks of Black Hawk Down (which I saw just before Once), the no-budget, naturalistic, film school style of Once caught me from minute one and never let me go.
Once is as naturalistic as it gets. Some scenes really look like parts from some hidden cam TV show. Obviously, John Carney didn't use any extras and filmed just spontaneously in the streets of Dublin.
It doesn't hurt either that it has the best original pop soundtrack I can remember, you may even call it a musical. But not one of those were random people just start singing and dancing for no apparent reason other than ruin the realms of cinematic realism but because they sing together or busk on the street or just record a demo tape. If all musicals would be like that, I wouldn't despise the genre that much.
But not only the musical parts work well. There's deft drama and a bittersweet if not heart-breaking ending to it. A bittersweet ending as I like it.
Finally, some words about the leads. Glen Hansard has not only of the best-looking red beards of all time, but also an amazing singing voice and some talent as an actor. Marketa Irglova, looks a loooot older than her eighteen years, is also a talented musician and a capable actress. They have just enough chemistry together to make the film work, but not as much as Hollywood perfectness demands.