Saturday, July 14, 2007


"The Commitments" is one of my all-time favorite movies, not just because it's Irish but because of the music. So when I heard about "Once," the latest Irish film export, which starred a member of the Commitments' cast, it got my attention. When I saw it had, like, 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was on my list.

Definitely worth the 97%. (What movie were the 3% watching?) Not much plot. Couple of lonely musicians who find each other, work together, awed by each other's music, getting a demo made to take to London to find a distributor. Smart music, smart movie. An Irish kind of "Lost in Translation," with the same lingering tone. (You'll have to see it to know why.) The male lead actually did write most of the songs. The film captures the Dublin feel, not all "Irish Springy" but the real Dublin, even grainy and coarse a lot of the time. The relationship between the male lead and his father is touching, and a vacuum player gets a key part.

The thing about this movie that I really appreciate is that I got a great sense, maybe for the first time, of what a musician, someone who lives for the music, actually feels and why. I've seen some documentaries that try to get it across, but they seem like people who know they're being filmed. These two leads, with their earnest appreciation for each other and their talents, do better acting it than those doc subjects living it. The ending isn't American, which means you'll find yourself thinking about it, challenged by it, appreciating it long after. I think this is a movie that musicians will relate to. I'm just glad they made it so some of the rest of us could understand a little better, too.

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