Sunday, August 05, 2007

Movie Report: Once

The movie, Once is aptly named. Its title describes how many times is too many times to have seen it. I don't know why the professional critics love it so much. It won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and it is generally getting high praise, but not from me.

The story is about a guy (unnamed in the movie) who sings on the street when not helping his father in the vacuum cleaner repair shop and meets an attractive girl. They both have other attachments, but fall in love, write songs and sing together and then go back to their respective attachments.

The movie was made in Dublin, Ireland, where it is set, and one of the many problems is that the actors have a thick Irish accent that make them impossible to understand at times. Like so many English movies, if they are going to show it in America, they should provide subtitles.

The second problem is the music is repetitive and irritating. Every song starts out kind of soft and sweet and winds up with the guy banging on the guitar strings and doing the raspy full-steam heart-felt wailing that Neil Diamond perfected a generation ago. One song sounds pretty much like the next when the guy is involved. The girl sings much better, but still it is mostly the guy who does the singing.

The third problem is there is not much of a story. I kept seeing snippets of a story and wishing they would develop this or that snippet a little more, only to be disappointed. The movie starts out with a very interesting robbery where a thief on the street picks up the guy's money from his guitar case and runs and the guy chases him down. When the guy finally catches the thief, the money goes flying all over and the mugger helps the guy retrieve it and they wind up sharing it. Then what happens? Does the mugger wind up being a down-on-his luck musician, too, who helps the guy develop his music? Nope. The thief disappears and the opening sequence is all we ever see of him.

At another point, we discover the girl has a daughter and while the guy is in her apartment getting used to the idea that she has a child, three guys come in plop down on the couch and start watching her television. This could become interesting, but what happens? Nothing. She explains she has the only television in the building and we never see the guys again, without any further explanation.

There are so many missed opportunities and then the movie ends without any real resolution. Does he make it as a singer? We never find out. Do the guy and the girl get back together? We don't know. I don't like movie endings that are too pat, but there needs to at least be enough there that the audience can speculate and argue about the ending. This movie just ends, 80 minutes after it started and not a minute too soon.

I gave it two out of five stars


Gnightgirl said...

Second sentence did me in. Very witty, you!

Anonymous said...

Ouch ! That was, I'm sure, a fair review of the movie-I'll wait to hear more from others before I would consider going at this point.

Amishlaw said...

I'm sure you realize, Anonymous Becky, that my reports are highly subjective and opinionated and you might really like the movie. That's why I included the comments about the critics and the audience at the Sundance Film Festival liking it. But if you can only see one musical this summer, go see Hairspray.

rdl said...

well you certainly talked me out of that one for sure.

Lydia said...

Oh, but it was sweet without being treacle-y, and the humor of the vacuum and the TV guys (ok, I wanted to see more of them, too)! I found some of the music hard to take, but figured the difficultness of it was good for me, like Bergman or something.

But then it was also the first good movie I'd seen in awhile and I had low expectations (Sundance = low expectations in my book), so I'll agree that you have several good points. I'll just disagree enough to say that Once was Exactly the right amount of times to have seen it :).

Also, thank you for reminding me how much I want to see Hairspray!

Amishlaw said...

Lydia, I'm glad you liked the movie. As I remind people, my reports are highly subjective, and I am not offended if other viewers disagree with my opinions.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

After all those award winning movies come out and I watch them I find myself wondering 'is it me?'