Directed by John Carney

Read pp. 1-10 of this book. Stop being a dick and just do it. At least you can justify this break from work under the logic that you’re reading a book. It’s enrichment.

There. Finished? Thanks. I really connect with that essay and, at least at this point in my life, I agree with almost every word of it (Coldplay isn’t that bad). It’s been years since I’ve met a woman I felt a real connection with,* but that’s probably because I’m looking for Jenny Lewis or Anna Karina,** neither of whom are real people.

Fortunately, Once is a film that manages to be good without dealing any lasting damage to my potentially existent love life.  This is due to the film’s rare ability to draft down to earth and “real” characters in what is typically the fantasy land of the musical-romance. The guy and gal (they are nameless in the film) have transcendent chemistry, both musically and romantically, but, like the real world, they also have baggage that keeps them apart. The gal is a mother and dealing with a separation from a husband she may or may not still be in love with. The guy is lonely, fancies this girl, but clearly isn’t over his ex, either. They both dally in a dual-layered relationship as musical partners, in which they both indulge in passionately and without hesitation, and as potential lovers, in which they dally around with varying degrees of commitment and passion (well, at least the gal does). It would seem that a pairing like this centered around the creation of pop music would be a perfect recipe for the very thing Klosterman discusses in his essay, but . . . well, to say more would spoil the film.

Once is the kind of film I’d like to see more of. It’s small-scale, but concerned above all else with crafting multidimensional characters we learn more about more through their actions, their art, and their mannerisms than through what they say. It trusts the audience to have the maturity and the wisdom to study the subtleties of the protagonists and, when we do, we see people we care about and people we can relate to.

*Easy ladies! This is my persona talking, not the real Joe! I love you all!

** If I had to pick a scene that ruined everything for me a la When Harry Met Sally, it would be this one (from Godard’s A Woman is a Woman):

I know it’s totally ludicrous, but I saw that in college and I’ve been looking for someone to replicate it with ever since. I’m an idiot.

* * *

Sorry I’ve been posting so late lately. I’ve fallen into an ill-advised late-summer vacation binge of staying up until dawn and sleeping far too late. I feel like Edward Norton in 25th Hour. Anyways, to make up for it I should have two posts here for you tomorrow. One will be a look at Boys Don’t Cry if I feel like I can handle something that depressing. A bit later we’ll have audio commentary number two starring Mr. Matt Meeks and me. We’re still discussing which film we’ll look at this time and have been racking our brains trying to think of one we can cover where listeners will be just as entertained if they’re listening at work on headphones or watching along with us. We’re genuinely flattered that some of you downloaded and listened to the Rocky commentary and we talked late into the night on Tuesday about how we could deliver a better product for you this time. I hope we can come through for you. Until then, thanks again for reading.