Last night saw a trip to Cambridge’s very own Wagamama before nine of us squeezed into a half-empty cinema for Once (caution: unmarked spoilers), the best and probably only Irish musical since The Commitments.
One of the characters in The Commitments was played by Glen Hansard, who stars in Once alongside Markéta Irglová. They’re both musicians rather than ac-tors, Hansard being lead singer/guitarist of popular Irish beat combo The Frames.
Glen Hansard is also a friend of Isobel, one of the nine of us at the film; they’re both from Dublin, where the film was shot. Isobel works with Andy and Louise at Qualcomm; her other half Simon works at Taptu with Neil, with whom I worked at ANT.
To complete the circle, Andy, Chris, Melanie, Chef, Lynda and I are going to Dublin for a weekend in December to see Ross, who turns 30 at the end of the year.
I’ll do a diagram later if you want. I think that means we qualify for Baftas.
It’s a very naturalistic film, shot on a budget that wouldn’t cover Tom Cruise’s toenail polish. No studio sets, no special lighting, no crowd control. Some street scenes were filmed with long lenses (and without permits), passers-by oblivious to the acting.
There’s a slight documentary feel about it – until the songs kick in. But unlike yer Sound of Musics or yer Bollywoods, the songs are built into the story. The cast don’t drop everything and start supercalifragilisticexpialidociousing with comedy chimney sweeps: the plot revolves around our (unnamed) male protagonist’s ambitions for a singing career, and our (unnamed) female protagonist’s assistance. And it’s a love story, of course.
Hansard and Irglová together wrote almost all the songs, and they’re pretty good. YouTube’s full of examples; give Taptu a whirl.
Definitely one of my films of the year. I look forward to any sequel, undoubtedly called Twice. Hahaha.
Avaragado’s rating: nine potatoes