Indie ONCE delivers more

CRITICAL BUZZ: Once, starring 19-year old newcomer Marketa Irglova and singer-songwriter Glen Hansard, and directed by John Carney, could be the next Little Miss Sunshine. (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)


LOS ANGELES—Once in a while I see films that are excellent. I keep them among “the best films” on my list. “Once,” the new Irish indie film everybody is raving about, struck me sharply. Not only because of its story, the actors’ performances, but somehow the musical soundtrack haunted me down to own it. I left the theatre asking if the soundtrack is available in any store around town.

I went to Virgin Megastore to check out if it is available. “Yes, we do have it, but we’re sold out! We were not expecting it to be that saleable. I think we’re going to have it in a week,” the clerk said. I was thinking to just go on iTune and purchase it, until that afternoon, at Barnes & Noble, (they’re sold out, too!) the guy told me he could order it for me not only for a few dollars less, but would ship it for free. I will get it in three days!

This dramatic film delivers a punch. It has a universal message for any struggling musical artists, who, no matter what, would pursue anything for the love of arts and performing. It is the story of two musicians who met on the street, collaborated and worked on a demo, and form a superfluous genuine relationship.

In real life, the film’s lead, singer-songwriter Glen Hansard (the lead singer of Dublin’s Frames rock band) who plays an Irish street singer, met her co-star 19-year old musician Czech, Marketa Irglova, in Prague, and collaborated with Hansard on the latter’s 2006 album The Swell Season.
Writer-director John Carney (a former bandmate of Hansard’s) opted to use Hansard’s original songs as well as Irglova, as co-lead (she never acted before). Filmed guerilla-style, the movie had a budget of 130,000 euros. The interactions between two actors that brought them in the movie are characters shaped by music and the natural instinct between two musicians as artists. “Sometimes people come into your life with a mission, where they maybe push you in the right direction, say the right thing, and inspire you in the right way. Some people might just be messengers. Who is the right person to stay throughout your life and who is the right person to let go? I can’t judge that. It’s very personal,” Irglova said in one interview.

The logic thing about music is its ability to connect to one’s person’s life. In the course of this film, like magic, it seems more delicate than art. You feel connected to something larger than yourself. I felt it.

Fox Searchlight, the distributor of the film, is considering the soundtrack for an Oscar submission. Because of the film’s winning reviews, the film continues to open in more theaters—go check it out. This could be the next Little Miss Sunshine. (For comments, email