After reviewing Jojo Rabbit last month – which is one of those films that may not be for everyone but I found brilliant – it seemed fitting to pivot to a film that I feel has universal appeal for the month of March. To that end, let’s talk about the movie Once (dir. John Carney) in this edition of Martin Movie Mondays.
Once is the story of a guy and a girl (literally – they are given no names in the script) who meet and develop a relationship that is equal parts simple and complicated. The guy, in this case, is a poor Irishman who works in his father’s vacuum repair shop and makes some extra money singing and playing guitar on the streets. The girl – currently living in Ireland with her daughter but has an estranged husband back home in the Czech Republic – encounters him singing and is immediately impressed by his ability. She just happens to have a broken vacuum as well. This revelation leads to more news that she, too, is a musician. They play together in a music store, singing the Oscar winning original song “Falling Slowly,” which is a fantastic song both about falling in love and the feeling of falling when love starts to fade. Did I forget to mention that the guy had a recent heartbreak and the love of his life now lives in London and will not communicate with him at all? This causes the girl to hatch a plan that, if he could just record these great songs he’s written about his love, she would take him back immediately. The rest of the movie follows their journey of trying to get a record made and their burgeoning relationship.
I cannot begin to tell you how delightful you will find this movie. You might get a little frustrated at the two of them working so hard to save their unseen relationships while seemingly ignoring the one that is right in front of them (that actually blossomed into an off screen relationship for several years between the two stars). You might also want to watch with the subtitles on JUST so you don’t miss anything as the Irish and Czech accents are pretty thick. But I would be amazed if you get to the end of this movie and feel anything other than a great swell in your heart at spending a little bit of time with this story.
There is also now a stage adaptation with the same name that is very much worth seeing as well, as it won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical. It perfectly blends things directly taken from the film with the necessary new spin on things that a stage version cannot do as well/does significantly better than a film. To give you an idea of the impact this film/show has had on me, the bridal party at my wedding walked in to a song from this show. Once you’ve seen the movie, try to check out the stage version as well. It is incredibly unique and beautifully captures the wonder of the film, which is no easy task.
The movie is rated R, but it’s a technicality that makes that happen as they drop a handful of F bombs. Beyond that little bit of language, there is nothing objectionable in this film and it can be enjoyed by anyone who understands, or wants to understand, what it truly means to love someone. As the movie asks, how often do you find the right person?