I saw Once over the weekend and, I must say, I was rather disappointed. The film isn't horrible by any means, but I couldn't understand what has made so many people go completely ape-shit over it. For starters, there's no real conflict in the story. It has the startings of a traditional rom-com: boy and girl meet, immediate attraction, obstacle to quickly overcome to first date, etc. But, in Once, after the girl admits that she's married, the boy just kind of shrugs it off and doesn't even seem to care. Let me add, that this scene occurs about 2/3 of the way in so we still have about 30 minutes to fill with amounts to nothing. Basically, Once serves as an agonizingly extended music video for Glen Hansard's music. Secondly, the story is so cliched that it's not even funny. It's your basic average-man-with-extraordinary-talent-attempts-to-make- it-big-in-the-music-business story that Hollywood has been shoving down our throats for years. It even has the scene where the guy's father tells him to pursue his dream "for his ma" (I laughed pretty hard at that). If Once had a bigger budget and starred Scarlett Johansson and Justin Timberlake, the critics and bloggers would have crucified this film. Just because it's independent, stars unknowns and feels like "real life" (whatever that means) doesn't mean we can proclaim it the second coming of Christ when it's really not very original to begin with.
The film wasn't all bad, though. The direction was adequate, if it does try to hard to be "realistic". The acting was pretty good from Hansard and Marketa Irglova and the music was nice as well, even if it was a little too indie for my taste.
My Rating: *** 1/2