Thursday, January 29, 2009


One of Ian's workmates loaned us this DVD and when he asked for it back we thought it was time to watch it. Once is a musical and a love story based around creating music.It's set in Ireland and the combination of these things give it a level of originality and contribute to its charm.

The principal characters (who are nameless) are an Irish vacuum-cleaner repairman and a Czech flower seller. He busks (singing and playing the guitar) in his spare time and they meet in the street when he's busking. She sings and plays the piano but kicks off their relationship by bringing her vacuum cleaner along to his next busking date. The two of them walking through Dublin with the vacuum cleaner trailing along behind is one of my favourite scenes.

Over the course of the film we find out that out he also writes music and he shares his tunes with her, and ends up asking her to write lyrics for them. Which of course she does, and once they've created some songs, they find a drummer and a bass player and hire a recording studio to make an album. So we get to watch the creative process, which is (I think) intrinsically romantic - working together on something that looks and sounds beautiful and having something to show for it afterwards.

What would appear to be a straightforward romance is complicated by the fact that she has a husband in the Czech Republic and a daughter and a mother here in Ireland, and he has an ex-girlfriend living in London that he's still pretty attached to. The end of the film is ambiguous in that the plan is that he goes to London and her husband arrives from the Republic but you can't be sure that's what actually happened.

Being a musical, you'd expect the soundtrack to be good and it is. It's got definite Dave Dobbyn overtones - ballads with guitar and piano accompaniment. "Falling Slowly" won an Oscar in 2008 for best original song and maybe I'm mad but the song it reminds me most of is Dobbyn's "Welcome Home". As a film, and even as a musical I thought it didn't need quite as many full-length songs as it had - the one in the pub, for example, could have easily been left out without the film losing anything.

For a twenty-first century romance there's a refreshing lack of sex and I recommend it if you're in the mood for a wistful musical love story.

Anne's rating 4/5

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