The score of the film is heartfelt and emotional, tugging at the empathy of the viewers. Overall, the film is a long form music video that is glorified beyond MTV. Over the course of one hour and twenty-five minutes, there are over five original compositions to enjoy. Most of the pieces are slow but continue to progress the storyline until the very last minute. By the last minute, I was ready to grab a bowl of ice cream and listen to the soundtrack all over again. After all, Hansard's composition, "Falling Slowly," rightfully won an Oscar for the film. Irglova's voice must also be commended in the song with her playful harmonization of Hansard's voice. I am disappointed that the score was not nominated for Best Original Score, but I guess the film flew a bit under the Academy's radar because of its independent method. After seeing Begin Again, Sing Street and Once, John Carney has proven to be a talented music-based film director who will likely shine on with future additions to his filmography.
Begin Again and Sing Street act as really well made music indie films, but Once stands out from the other two because of the way it is shot. Rather than using typical film conventions, Carney refers to a reality television filming style. The film angles are often placed in a candid situation and everything we see looks real. At first I thought that I had turned on the wrong film because of the raw material on the screen. At one point, there was a shot through a window that included the glare of the window. Carney seems to have intentionally scrapped a lot of the post-film editing so that we could join the characters in their daily living situation. There are multiple long takes as we follow them through a shaky handheld camera. So many other diverse filming conventions are used throughout the film. These conventions may sound like a negative for a film, but this love story cuts deep into our souls because of this realism. It has been a long time since I have watched something so unique and soulful as Once is.
The Bottom Line: Raw footage and diverse filming conventions harmonize together to create a realistic, serene film which put Carney on the map as a brilliant indie music film director.
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