What do you get when you combine two amateur actors, a $160,000 budget, and 17 days to shoot? A critically acclaimed film called “Once”.
When I first heard of this movie, it wasn’t the big-name celebrities and directors that were being hyped, it was the music.
The second I heard “Falling Slowly”, a duet with the main characters who remained nameless through out the film (Guy, played by Glen Hansard, and Girl, played by Marketa Irglova), I was captivated. The lyrics are haunting and the harmonies send chills down your spine. After I heard that song, I knew it would be a movie worth watching. I was right.
The movie takes place in Dublin, Ireland, over a week when a struggling musician meets a young woman and they immediately befriend each other. All the while there is a hint of romantic spark.
When Guy learns that Girl is a musician as well, they agree to collaborate. Both characters have complications in the romantic department, yanking inspiration for most of the songs. Guy was cheated on by an ex-girlfriend, who lives in London.
Girl had a handful of struggles, most of which circulate around her husband, who abandoned her and her daughter.
When Girl learns about Guy’s troubled past, she tells him to go to London, win his girl back and pursue his music career. Guy agrees but wants to get a high-quality demo of his music first and enlists the help of no-name street performers and Girl to assist.
The production for this captivating indie film was bumpy to say the least. Neither Hansard nor Irglova were experienced actors. In fact, both are professional musicians in real life. Director John Carney originally enlisted Cillian Murphy to play the lead role and Glen Hansard was to compose the music for the film, but upon hearing Hansard’s lyrics and finding out his co-star was a 17-year-old with no prior experience (Marketa Irglova), Murphy backed out along with all of Carney’s financial resources. Carney was forced to cut the budget down to $160,000, some of which came out of his own pocket.
The film was shot in a total of 17 days by a less-than-skimpy crew, and went on to receive the World Cinema Audience Award for dramatic film at the 2007 Sundance Festival. It also more notably won a Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media — “Falling Slowly” — and an Academy Award for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) — once again for “Falling Slowly”.
Overall I think this movie has something for everyone. It is especially good for those who hold a great appreciation for music. However, I think anyone would find pleasure watching this movie. I give it two thumbs up, five stars, and any other form of flattery you could possibly think of.
Toni Zullo is a 10th-grader at Schenectady High School.