Saturday, 1 September 2007

Once, a new Irish movie, starts promisingly with the theme of aspiration and intellect but soon deteriorates as the conventional 'romantic' trope takes over the narrative.

I am enjoying the primary soundtrack item as I type, with its repeated 'once' looking back, like me, to the movie's beginning and its promise of redemption through mental exercise.

A particularly memorable moment is when the guy (Glen Hansard) sings at the top of his voice while standing before the entrance to a small, blue-lit alleyway, which makes a canonical splash centre-frame though it is flanked by pale yellow windows to complete a rather theatrical backdrop.

Up comes the girl (Marketa Irglova) and I don't recall how their conversation starts but in it the guy mentions that he only sings this particular song at night as, to make money during the day, he usually only sings "what people know". It is a nice moment.

The girl takes the guy to a music store where she is wont to practice the piano and they do a little duet that contains a huge volume of concealed meaning. Mendlessohn? I think it was, but he doesn't know it. "It's good," he says when she tells him the name of the composer.

He has never heard of Mendelssohn. With this we see how the guy recognises something familiar the name of which he has never seen. It's a cogent moment laden with deep significance that some readers will recognise.

The irony is that the girl's mother doesn't speak much English. I think they speak Polish, but I can't be sure. Ironic since it is the easterner who introduces the westerner to the westerner's cultural heritage. Here is recognition of the cultural sophistication of the east but we are always conscious that it is the guy who pulls the creative strings.

Another neat moment is when he sings her stories about his past while they are seated together at the back of a bus. He does a clever little riff in heavy-metal mode that echoes a theme in the story -- how his former love left him for another guy. The Romantic angst of metal music is fulsomely pointed at.

But regardless, as soon as I felt the story manoeuvring these interesting characters toward the bedroom, I got up and left. I didn't even finish my Coke.


R.H. said...


I like these film reviews, skinflint that I am; if you put the endings in I wouldn't have to go and see them.

Dean said...

If I don't like a movie, I don't waste my time watching the end. But thanks for the nod.

kimbofo said...

Didn't they make this movie on the world's worst budget -- something like £100,000 ??

I've not seen it, but it's been getting some big press here in the UK, namely on the back of Steven Spielberg saying he found it "inspirational".

I just think it's funny that the lead actor was in The Commitments about a trillion years ago.

Dean said...

Yes, the price was low. I think the music element is grand and the bus scene is really clever. He changes from one mode to another. Only a real player could do this scene.