(RTE Entertainment with the pic)
The verdict: A big, emphatic blah.
It's not that this story -- an Irish busker's (Glen Hansard, of something called The Frames) slight romance with a Czech immigrant/pianist (Markéta Irglová, also a musician), with a side dish of Hansard's character trying to complete an album -- totally sucks. It has nice moments and insights, especially is it pertains to the sheer incomprehensibility of some women's actions*.
*And yes, most men are incomprehensible, too ... but I'm a dude myself, so my actions make sense, dammit!
But that doesn't make the movie any good. Mostly because it's boring. Mostly because, as a "modern musical," there's way too much music here -- I'd say about half of the film's 85 minutes are wordless except for guitar strums and sung notes.
Not that music being prevalent in film is a bad thing (see: Chicago). It's just this music really isn't any good (the Oscar for Best Song notwithstanding). It's not horrible, per se -- I'd hate to see the modern-day country music version of this -- but it's simply simple. As an unabashed music snob, I must again and again point out to all who will listen that "arty" music often is completely the opposite. I play the guitar about as well as I can weld, but give me a six-string and about a month of practice and I could be just as good Once's protag. I mean that. An open chord ain't exactly a John Petrucci solo.
Which also lends another element to my overall dislike of this movie: I can't get all that wrapped up in a guy's journey when I'm sitting there screaming: "You think this is hard?! Try changing tempos once in a while! Mix in a few other time signatures, why don't you?! And for the love of God, why do all you people hate drummers so much?!"
It's not totally the point, of course, which saves this movie a little. As mentioned before, the musician's relationship with Irglova's character -- she's got a husband somewhere, so their romance doesn't really take off -- is intriguing and realistic, but that story is so buried beneath melancholy, repetitive tones, it's pretty much forgettable.
I guess it's a good thing I didn't see the film until now. Guess it's obvious I won't be seeing it again. The title of this post says it all: Once is enough.