Once is my film of the year. And not just because Marketa Irglova is so cute!!!
(I may or may not be spelling "Marketa Irglova” correctly—I have seen such a variety of spellings and accents that I can only give my best guess. I like to think mostly of the proximity of Marketa and the meerkat on the cuteness scale.)
So there are other 2008 movies higher on my all time list: No Country for Old Men, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for two, probably Control when Netflix sends it to me. But this film was the most. I haven’t felt sparks that hard since Bogie and Bacall in To Have and Have Not. It’s a big statement but I’m speaking of films where the romance moves from narrative to a physical need.
It took me six minutes after the credits finished to leave my seat, and then only bent over chair backs, hobbling for the exit. That piano pan out the window, the bricks down the street for a too fast ending, the thought oh fuck this is NOT an American film. Rare—and how do you get on that plane Guy? How do you get on that plane? How do you get on that plane?
He was in love not five minutes in—we were—when she said she would bring the vacuum. The way she lifted her voice into the moment of asking. They meet and seem so innocuous heading into the piano store. And start into “Falling Slowly.” In the collaboration over that song I realized, hair standing all over my arms, that I would love this film intensely for years. The looks of disbelief on the actors’ faces at how good they sounded mirrored my own look of disbelief at how much I cared. I know people who absolutely hate Glen Hansard’s music in the film but cannot deny the power of the first version of “Falling Slowly.”
I remember Anthony Lane saying it was a good film but how vital can a movie be that is basically about “recording a mixtape”? I love Anthony but, really, what the fuck else is more significant about your average feature film? The joke of this is, for the legions that immediately went out and bought the motion picture soundtrack for Once, the songs aren’t even a fraction as good outside the context of the film.
The romance is repressed throughout the film until Irglova throws Hansard The Look and states a heart-melting offer of some “hanky-panky” (you really have to hear her say it). These are the reasons the world goes around. I cannot overstate. This film is just a line of why we have songs-films-poems-words-people-life. Through Once I recall each element of that evening: the brown-checked table cloth at dinner, the fantastic gnocchi in red sauce, the gold shoes we browsed over at Mint, the thought, looking at the film poster on the way in, this is going to be really good. And once I was right. No Country never made me feel like someone was sitting on my chest, Diving Bell couldn’t have convinced me that I was in love with the person on the aisle. I drove home doing a Jewel sing-a-long and I would have been meant for anyone in the other seat. Amazing.
And I see Marketa and Glen are now together—about damn time. I say to them, in the best possible way, “you have broken me all the way down.”