Once : 3 of 5
I had never heard of this independent film, but one of my co-workers recently loaned me the DVD, probably because she knows I like musicals. I wouldn't really call Once a musical in the technical sense (it is filled with songs, but the characters don't sing them as dialogue), but the music is still original and wonderful. The plot is really simple, about a singer/songwriter living in Ireland and missing his girlfriend in London, who becomes friends with a Czech girl who plays piano, and also happens to be apart from her husband. Honestly, the movie begins rather dull, and I was really annoyed at the handheld camera work that was probably meant to look like a documentary, but instead comes across as cheap. But it didn't take long for me to really appreciate the characters and see how their friendship and feelings help each other past difficult situations in life. It's plain to see they love each other, but rather than let that love tear apart their lives, they use it to inspire courage in each other to do the right thing, which is beautiful. Because the story involves songwriting and recording studio sessions, there's a lot of music to listen to, with poetic lyrics (that often add insight into the characters) sung in harmony with excellent guitar/piano arrangements. Although I can't say I would want to watch Once more than once, I still really enjoyed seeing a brilliant film about how life is wonderful in all situations, and it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with a happy tear in my eye.