Idol Chatter

once_idol.jpgThe one movie I have been anxiously waiting to see all summer long is the limited-release romantic drama-posing-as-a-musical, “Once.” Critics have been heaping praise on it, and now I can understand why.
What seems like a very simple, formulaic tale–boy meets girl, boy and girl can’t be together because they are from different worlds, boy and girl fall in love anyway–is actually a soulful, layered film that defies the conventions of most cinematic storytelling and celebrates the deeper layers of love and passion.
Set in modern Dublin in a quaint shopping district, an Irish street musician and a Czech immigrant (we never learn their names) meet serendipitously over something as ordinary as a Hoover vacuum cleaner. She needs hers fixed because one of her jobs is cleaning houses; when he is not playing music in the streets for change, he helps at his father’s repair shop where he sometimes fixes vacuum cleaners. And from such a prosaic moment, a spiritual and life-changing connection is formed.

The guy and the girl discover they share a deep love of music (his ability is on the guitar, her talent is for the piano), and they begin to experiment with writing songs together. As they do, they slowly reveal the pain and losses they both have experienced in the past. But in a leap of faith as much as an act of love, they both make distinct sacrifices to help each other reach their dreams for the future.
The movie unfolds with a limited number of conversations, but rather with many more musical numbers that feel like extended music videos. The world these musical numbers create is a spellbinding one. The musical scenes reveal that art from a pure heart can truly be transcendent in nature. More importantly, pure art can feed our souls in mystical moments and help us to muddle through the every day banality of our lives.
And as far as the love story goes, well I just don’t dare give too much away because it will ruin the movie for you. But let me say that this is a love also steeped in purity and refuses to rely on every trick that romantic movies depend on. It, too, has a transcendent quality in the sense that the couple experiences a spirtual catharsis, if not resolution, to their inner conflicts that reaches past their selfish natures.
“Once” is a rare movie, and if you have the opportunity to see it, I am sure you will agree that watching it once will not be enough.

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