2007_05_arts_once.jpgOnce
(directed by John Carney)

Have you ever had a certain beloved record so often on repeat that you start to think of it as the soundtrack to your life? That magical connection between music, emotion and experience is at the heart of the new musical Once and it makes for a truly unique movie. A vacuum cleaner repairman by day and a Dublin street busker by night, "The Guy" (Glen Hansard) is obviously nursing a broken heart as the songs he performs are all about being jilted. "The Girl" (Marketa Irglova), a Czech immigrant street entrepreneur who sells flowers and papers, though seems to find his sad sack routine entertaining and the two strike up a tentative friendship over their shared love for music. The two cobble together a band and decide to record the Guy's songs in a studio for a demo to shop around the London record labels.

Their story has tinges of autobiography to it as Hansard started out his career as a Dublin busker and later formed the band The Frames which director John Carney was the bassist for. Irglova is also a musician and from the Czech Republic in "real life," and she recorded a record with Hansard last year called "The Swell Season" which features many of the songs from the movie's soundtrack. However the movie is more than just an 88 minute music video for Hansard and Irglova's sonic collaboration. In the best sense of the word, Once is a consummate musical where the songs allow the characters to express their emotions and longing for each other in a way that mere words never could. It won the The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic at this year's Sundance Film Festival and after seeing the movie you won't be surprised. It's the kind of buoyant film that will have you soft-shoeing out of the theater.

Other new movies gracing theaters this weekend include the next installment in the animated ogre series Shrek the Third, Luke Wilson and his brother Andrew's movie about a sweet-talking Austin con man The Wendell Baker Story, the outer borough mafia story with Alec Baldwin Brooklyn Rules and the addiction drama Even Money.