Monday, March 3, 2008


The March issue of Discorder hits the streets today. I have four pieces in it, so I thought I'd post one a day, saving the biggest one for last: my profile with Elias.

Once Film Review
By Andrea Warner

Once is the rarest of musicals, simultaneously rooted in possibility, reality and fantasy: the busker-by-day/vacuum-repair-by-night guy meets “cute” with the girl who rolls her Hoover behind her and happens to be a brilliant piano player. Thus begins their shyly innocent courtship making music together.

The “guy” is Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Frames, and the “girl” is Markéta Irglová, our leads who must navigate new terrain as their friendship blossoms, fueled by creativity and the possible spark of something more. Irglová’s face is young but wise, and the depth of her smile endears her to the camera. Hansard is older, not necessarily wiser, but he conveys his world-weariness without a bitter tinge. He’s lost, but he’s still hopeful, and this is what draws the two together.

Our heroine tries to take care of her daughter and her mother, with no sign of the husband to whom she’s bound. Our hero deals with his failings: his girlfriend has left him, his music career is stalled, and he’s living over his father’s repair shop. Hansard and Irglová’s chemistry is sweet and powerful, and watching the push-pull between them is breathtakingly sad. It may have helped that the professional musicians, but untrained actors, happened to actually fall in love during the three-week filming.

Set in Dublin, and directed by John Carney (once a member of the Frames, himself), Once is a testament to the power of a cheaply made great film trumping a bloated, big budget flick any day. Tight close ups, hand held cameras, and natural lighting helps create a feeling of intimacy and emotional investment.

Once’s real charm is the music. With the majority written by Hansard and Irglová, the songs are perfect fodder to relay the hidden feelings and deeper desires of these emotional and impassioned characters. The pair even scored an Oscar nomination for “Falling Slowly”, the beautiful song of yearning that sets the entire film in motion. Hansard and Irgová’s voices are powerfully contrasted: his desperate growl buoyed by her gentle urging as they crescendo like waves breaking on the beach.

As the audience is invited inside the process of writing songs, crafted through give and take, it feels like the moments reach well beyond the celluloid. We’re privy to the most secret of rituals—watching a relationship being built from the ground up note by note.

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