Once is the story of an unnamed Irish busker (Glen Hansard), who plays for money in the streets of Dublin to supplement his day job as a vacuum cleaner repairman. A chance meeting with a Czech immigrant (Markéta Irglová) sets them on a path to romance and collaborative songwriting/performing.

Irglová’s character (also unnamed) is a classically-trained concert pianist who practices at a local music shop during the day. At night she does odd jobs and takes care of her daughter and mom.

As the story progresses, the two collaborate on songs and eventually record a demo record for Hansard’s character to take to London to help secure a record deal. As their personal lives intrude on their budding romance, the movie concludes with bittersweet (and realistic) resolution.

Writer/director John Carney cast real-life musicans Hansard and Irglová rather than actors, which gives the film a natural, realistic quality; they seem to be real people caught on camera by chance, rather than big-name actors pretending to be musicians.

However the real star of this film is the music. The  songs are heartfelt, melancholy, and moving. In fact, Hansard and Irglová won an Oscar for best original song, “Falling Slowly:”

Worth a look if you like touching, realistic romances or achingly beautiful music.

Skip it if musicals are not your thing.

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