Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Once In A Lifetime

John Carney's “Once” is a near perfect indie debut – “Before Sunrise” minus the worldly cynicism lurking around the edges, a pure and innocent portrait of the magical process of falling in love. Touching without the slightest sentimentality (a tightrope walk mastered by the French New Wave before its offspring descended into the cringe-inducing melodrama that passes for today’s date movie), “Once” is more than deeply, intoxicatingly romantic. It is mesmerizing. Like love itself the film’s poignancy sneaks up on you unexpectedly, slowly, quietly. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the musician actors playing the lead lovebirds, have a chemistry that radiates, generates electric sparks from the screen. The musical numbers are so organically engrained in the script that the songs become a third major character, a child born out of loneliness, desperation and love. It comes as no surprise that the stars fell for one another during shooting. “Once” could just as easily apply to the once-in-a-lifetime magic necessary to capture real love unfolding onscreen, to create a documentary of emotions encased in a fictional film.

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