Once is a 2006 Irish musical film written and directed by John Carney. Set in Dublin, this naturalistic drama stars musicians Glen Hansard (of popular Irish rock band The Frames) and Markéta Irglová as struggling musicians. Collaborators prior to making the film, Hansard and Irglová composed and performed all of the original songs in the movie.
The Story of the Movie
An unnamed, thirty-something Dublin busker (listed in the credits as “Guy”, played by Glen Hansard) sings and plays guitar on Grafton Street, a Dublin shopping district. He struggles with the trials of performing on the street, including chasing after heroin’s addict (Darren Healy) who attempts to steal his earnings. Lured by his music, an unnamed young Czech immigrant flower seller (listed in the credits as “Girl”, played by Markéta Irglová) approaches him and, despite his annoyance, persists in questioning him about his songs. Delighted to learn that he also repairs vacuum cleaners in his father’s shop, she insists that he fix her broken cleaner.
The next day she brings her Hoover by and parlays it into lunch together, whereupon she piques his interest by telling him that she is a musician, too. He asks to hear her play, so they visit a music store where she regularly plays piano. After teaching her one of his songs (“Falling Slowly”), which she quickly learns to play, they sing and play the song together, kindling a musical and potentially romantic connection. He invites her and her ailing vacuum back to his father’s shop, and on the bus home musically answers her question as to what his songs are about: a long-time girlfriend, who cheated on him, then left (“Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy”).
Once stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
At the shop, he repairs her vacuum and she meets his father (Bill Hodnett), who seems indifferent to his son’s musical talent. The Guy takes the Girl up to his room, but when he asks her to stay the night, she is insulted and leaves. The next day, he apologizes and they quickly patch things up, as over the course of a week they excitedly write, rehearse and record songs, and get to know each other. Songs continue to be performed in a real-world, diegetic fashion, often in their entirety, as when the Girl rehearses her lyrics for one of the Guy’s songs (which she entitles “If You Want Me”), singing to herself while walking down the street, or when at a party, people perform impromptu (including “Gold”, performed by a trio featuring guitarist Hansard singing harmony).
Their flirtation continues, but at the same time, he is thinking about and writing about (“Lies”) his ex-girlfriend (Marcella Plunkett), who moved to London. The Girl encourages him to move there, win his girlfriend back and pursue his musical career. Invited home to dinner by the Girl to a house set in Mountjoy Square, the Guy discovers that she has a toddler (Kate Haugh) and lives with her mother (Danuse Ktrestova). He soon decides that it is time to move to London, but he wants to make a high-quality demo of his songs to take with him and asks the Girl to record it with him. She takes the lead as they secure a bank loan – from a bank where the loan officer (Sean Miller) is a musical hobbyist—and reserve time at a professional studio.
On a romantic motorbike jaunt aboard his father’s 1966 6T Triumph Thunderbird, she reveals, much to his consternation, that she is married, though her estranged husband is back in the Czech Republic. When Guy asks if she still loves her husband, she answers in Czech, “Miluju tebe”, but coyly declines to translate what she said. In the Czech language it means “It is you I love.” After recruiting a trio of musicians (Gerard Hendrick, Alaistair Foley, Hugh Walsh), they rehearse, then go into the studio to record. Their lack of experience shows, but they quickly impress the jaded studio engineer Eamon (Geoff Minogue) once they begin recording their first song (“When Your Mind’s Made Up”). On a break in the wee hours of the morning, the Girl finds a piano in an empty studio and finally plays the Guy one of her own compositions (“The Hill”), which tells of romantic frustration. She breaks down before finishing the song and he responds by asking her to come with him to London, but is not prepared for the reality of her mother coming along to help with the baby.
Still, he is smitten. After the all-night session wraps up successfully, they walk home. Before they part ways, the Girl reveals that she spoke to her husband and he is coming to live with her in Dublin. The Guy asks her to spend his last night in Dublin with him; she says that it would only result in “hanky-panky”, which is a “bad idea”, but after the Guy’s pestering she ultimately agrees to come over. In the end, she stands him up and he cannot find her to say goodbye before his flight. He plays the demo for his father, who, moved and impressed, gives him money to help him get settled in London. Before leaving for the airport, the Guy buys the Girl a piano and makes arrangements for its delivery, then calls his ex-girlfriend, who is happy about his imminent arrival. The Girl’s husband (Senan Haugh) moves to Dublin and they reunite.
List of Songs from the Movie Once
|1.||“Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová)||Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová||4:04|
|2.||“If You Want Me” (Irglová)||Irglová and Hansard||3:48|
|3.||“Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy”||Hansard||0:53|
|4.||“When Your Mind’s Made Up”||Hansard and Irglová||3:41|
|5.||“Lies” (Hansard, Irglová)||Hansard and Irglová||3:59|
|6.||“Gold” (Fergus O’Farrell)||Interference||3:59|
|7.||“The Hill” (Irglová)||Irglová||4:35|
|8.||“Fallen from the Sky”||Hansard||3:25|
|10.||“Trying to Pull Myself Away”||Hansard||3:36|
|11.||“All the Way Down”||Hansard||2:39|
|12.||“Once”||Hansard and Irglová||3:39|
|13.||“Say It to Me Now”||Hansard||2:35|
|14.||“And the Healing Has Begun”||Hansard||5:19|
|15.||“Into the Mystic” (Morrison, Collector’s Edition only)||Hansard and Irglová||4:21|