Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FYC or, How Once is a musical gem

For Your Consideration (A Blog Next Door Style) - Once
It's my blog and I'll FYC if I want to, FYC if I want to...

The musical is back, there's no question about it. One could ask whether it really left, but either way last Christmas's Dreamgirls, this summer's Hairspray and the upcoming Sweeney Todd are but a few examples of the way the industry has embraced musicals and has invested enough money on them (Dreamgirls: $75 million, Hairspray: $75 million, Sweeney Todd: $65 million). And yet, amidst flawless editing, polished production, A-listers and heavily post-produced soundtracks Once sticks out to me as one of the best musicals in quite some time. Where Moulin Rouge was epileptic, Once is subdued; where Chicago was theatrical, Once is organic; where High School Music was campy, Once is confident in its plausibility.
If I begin talking about John Carney's film in terms of comparison I don't mean to do it to dismiss the value of the other musicals evoked (I am a fan of all of them, actually) - but I do feel it is important to preface any review/commentary on this film with the way it breaks off from what we have come to expect from movies that may be termed 'musicals' for it is this aspect of the film which makes it more of an achievement.
The premise: at its simplest it is a movie about an unnamed Guy (Glen Hansard) and an unnamed Girl (Marketa Irglova) who spend a weekend together composing, rehearsing and recording songs.
The beauty of the movie is the music. It is driven by it and works with/in it. At times the songs that Guy and Girl compose speak directly to what is happening but instead of being interludes or show-stopping numbers, they spring forth organically from the action and seamlessly wind down and disappear into the background. In particular I enjoyed one scene where, after getting new batteries for her walkman, Girl leaves the store listening to Guy's music and sings the newly written lyrics for it on her way home. It is a beautiful moment that I think epitomises the entire film's M.O. - a fine line between musical magic and realistic plausibility.
Overall, it is an endearing movie that stays away from Hollywood sappiness and succeeds still in making the last scene in the movie quite moving. I'll leave you with lyrics from my favourite Once song: Falling Slowly:
I don't know you
But I want you

All the more for that

Words fall through me

And always fool me

And I can't react

And games that never amount

To more than they're meant

Will play themselves out

Check out A Blog Next Door's other FYC campaigns:
Superbad & Knocked Up


POP COLONY said...

Unfortunately "Falling Slowly" may not be eligible since it was on Glen & Marketa's 2006 album The Swell Season. Can you believe that this movie was made for less than 200,000$??? That's less than what they spent on Beyonce's weaves!!

J.D. said...


J.D. said...