Dragonknight’s review published on Letterboxd:
”It’s you I love.”
Two non-professional actors. A few heartfelt songs and a budget of just 112,000$. That’s all director John Carney needs to construct a miraculous collection of human emotions that tend to break your heart or uplift you depending on how you like to connect with the characters and the overall atmosphere of the film. With its unimaginable simplicity Once reaches the heights that many movies so desperately try to achieve with multi million dollar budgets, fake superstars and childlishly deformed stories of romance yet fail. Carney’s film manages to portray the most fundamental yet at the same time most profound emotions of us human beings and then through the magic of music transfers those earnest feelings into the screen and our hearts making us for once feel the power of true love without feeling artificially manipulated, you can feel the the real perfection that finds its way into your heart when you have someone else to share the best moments of your life with and then you’ll see how it truly lights up your life. How often can you find a movie as honest, warm and inspirational as this one? A true sensation.
For our protagonists music is not just a way of passing time, it’s not a hobby. It helps them express themselves and soon it becomes their savior. Through music they find each other and it is then that they finally find the inner peace that has been vanished from their lives for so long, it connects them together and helps them to regain the sweetness of their simple lives. Once’s most charming aspect and the thing that makes it such a unique experience among all the romances made in the past decade is that its perception of the concept of joy and delight and “happy ending” is totally different from almost everything we see, read and hear these days. In John Carney’s universe there’s no climactic moment, no peak in the relationship. In fact it is those simple and small moments that most of us take for granted that define exhiliration of a relationship, the fact that somewhere sometime it is going to end – with all its bittersweet memories – is the thing that makes it significant and worthy of our attention. Just imagine another ending for this small scale romance and you’ll see how empty and purposless the whole thing would have looked like.
Before anything Once is a musical, but again it is not the glamorous visuals or the oh-so-charming nature of the story or the instantly forgettable songs that make the whole film such a wonderful experience. In fact like its main protagonists who are battling with contrasting emotions throughout the whole movie and never really manage to get around their bitter pasts and truly embrace their new enchanting lives there is a paradoxical sense of sweet sadness in everything that happens in the movie which is perfectly handled by Carney and his actors, this is one of those situations when you really want to stop doing everything, go find a quiet place and start crying till you feel lighter and more serene.
Once doesn’t have two sexy superstars performing special smash hits, it doesn’t have any fascinating visuals, it doesn’t even have a lived-happily-ever-after sort of ending. Instead of all those it has a heart. And it’s generous enough to share some of the warmth and ecstacy that its protagonists enjoy with us and we should be thankful for that.