Conversation on John Carney's 'ONCE' with Sebastian

Poster of ONCE


A MSN conversation I had with Sebastian:



I said:
ONCE is the most beautiful movie ever!
He said:
Haha, has it finally arrived in m'sia? or are you still in taiwan?
I said:
Still in Taiwan. saw it on the plane, as if a film like this would come to M'sia.
He said:
i dont get it, i watched it when it wasnt famous yet and i thought it was interesting, but didnt think too much of it
I said:
*shrugs* expected
I said:
was mesmerized by the songs
He said:
oh yeah, the songs were good
He said:
i esp liked the one where they sang and played in the music equipment store
I said:
i was like "why haven't i thought of THAT!!"
I said:
yeah, 'Falling Slowly"
He said:
and the one in the beginning where he sang on the street, my, was that intense!
I said:
yeaah
I said:
for me, the magical parts were
I said:
the music store
I said:
the one where she sang by herself at the streets
I said:
the one where he sang while looking at old videos of previous love
I said:
umm... her answer to him in unsubtitled Czech when he asked whether she still loved her husband.
I said:
and the studio, definitely
He said:
hmm, some ppl liked that one where she sang in the streets but i didnt, song was weak anyway and it's the closest to musical contrivialities it got
I said:
it's one long take
He said:
.... so?
I said:
don't think it was that contrived
He said:
it got tired for me as it went on, really
He said:
but still, generally interesting songs
I said:
i did like the song though
I said:
the studio part was
I said:
whoaa
He said:
and anything british (well, irish) gets me, as usual
He said:
ireland is beautiful
He said:
the studio sequence does make you feel the sweat and effort that goes into recording an album
I said:
yeah
I said:
i like how the guy was disinterested at first (“fucking hobos”)
I said:
but then he paid attention to them
He said:
... wait a sec, wait a sec - is this conversation going to go into your blog? did you just duped me into a review?
I said:
Never thought of using this for my review... until your last line.

I can't imagine how much I liked this film right after I saw it in the plane, I pretty much rewinded to certain scenes of the film to rewatch them over and over again. On MSN, I couldn't stop raving to Justin and Erna.

ONCE is a musical from Ireland, and of course, when I say musical, most people would think: big budget, lavish sets, dazzling costumes, flashily choreographed dance sequences etc.

Titles like CHICAGO, MOULIN ROUGE, HAIRSPRAY would come into mind, even an Asian musical like PERHAPS, LOVE had followed the Hollywood conventions, there are the musical biopics too like RAY and WALK THE LINE (or DREAMGIRLS if you want to count that) which are all big budget flicks! This year's Oscar winner for Best Short Film, WEST BANK STORY, was a parody of West Side Story, and looked so expensive that I think it could have funded 3-4 feature-length Malaysian indie films.

A low-budget musical is almost like an oxymoron.

One of my dreams had always been to make a musical short film (or a music video), and I've been racking my brains out wondering how can I pull off a low-budget musical.

ONCE pretty much provided me an answer. Screw conventions and usual expectations of the masses, the film, made with 170 000 Euros, looked like a documentary, gritty and realistic, handheld camera was used almost throughout the film (until the flashy expensive-looking tracking shots in the last few scenes) and the singing sequences were simple: It's either the guy or the gal singing at the streets, or the guy and gal singing together in a music store as she tested out one of the pianos, or them having a band recording in the studio, And musical sequences were done in only one or two camera angles while long languid takes were maintained.

(From Wikipedia: All of the music in the film is diagetic, making it appear as though the music came from the world of the film itself. The songs continue to be performed in a real-world, incidental music fashion, often in their entirety,)

Story's simple, He (Glen Hansard) is a street musician who plays the guitars, She (Markéta Irglová) is a Czech immigrant flower-seller and also an aspiring musician who plays the piano. They meet one night when he was performing another one of his angsty songs to lament a previous relationship, where she asks him (to his annoyance) about the woman featured in the songs.

Upon finding out that the Guy helps out at his father's vacuum cleaner fixing shop, the Girl brings her Hoover to him the next day for repairs, he also finds out that she's a musician too. She brings him to a music store, they sing and play his song, FALLING SLOWLY together.



And thus begins a connection between the two that treads between the line of friendship and romance. Things are complicated since she is already married and has a daughter (her estranged husband is still in Czech Republic)

This is, after all, a musical, so the plot is simple, but the film blows me away because of the aforementioned musical scenes, so enthralling and uplifting that I feel inspired, and I'm not surprised why even STEVEN SPIELBERG himself said "A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year."

Now, check out the videos, and if you really have the chance to catch this film, catch it. You have no idea what you're missing if you don't.


ONCE trailer


LIES, another song from ONCE