We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – Once

So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

25 Years of Irish Film



(John Carney, 2006)

‘… flows along beautifully with the supporting lyrical framework…’

Juls Nicholl-Stimpson

Once enthusiastically Irish, yet culturally diverse from start to finish; a lyrical rom-com far removed from Hollywood and its invariable conclusive endings. Once leaves us to make up our own minds about the futures of the two nameless central characters.

A naturalistic drama, it’s dry Irish sarcastic humour is slightly stereotypical, borderline cliché but well conveyed none the less; from the typical junkie to our nameless busker just looking to make a crust. The two central characters – known only as guy (Glen Hansard) and girl (Markéta Irglová), their fortuitous meeting is ordinary; set on busy Grafton Street, it remains unforced, un-manipulated, completely true to life. As she wanders by she stops to listen to him sing. Engaging ‘guy’ in conversation she finds out he works in a small hoover repair shop by day and asks him to have a look at hers. Sure enough the next day along she comes pulling the hoover comically behind her as if walking a dog! The film showcases Glen Hansards spectacular vocals as his character Guy journeys with the help of the unnamed Girl to assemble a demo tape for his move to London. Both out of long term relationships, both are searching for an answer relating to their respective ex’s becoming an outlet for each other and at times the attraction between them is tense.

Let’s make sweet music together

Though there are natural aspects to this film, the story is fictitious and there are the elements of the unnatural such as the unnamed girl singing whilst walking through the street donned in pyjamas and sheep slippers in the middle of the night untargeted by any of the kids on the inner city street. Also the scene in the bank manager’s office was completely unrealistic though humorous; I don’t think you would hear of any bank manager whipping out his guitar for a quick singsong mid-meeting just to show his enthusiasm or support for their recording venture.

Not only has John Carney’s Once been nominated and won an Oscar® but it has also won best foreign film at the Independent Spirit awards. Incredibly filmed and on a budget of €130,000, we have to love this musical comic love story which goes above and beyond to convey unspoken messages through the lyrics and fleeting looks. This is a perfect example of minimalistic dialogue; less is definitely more. The film overall, flows along beautifully with the supporting lyrical framework. For me this is an impressive example of Irish film, not your usual rom-com and definitely one to watch if you like musicals.

Juls Nicholl-Stimpson



One Reply to “We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – Once”

  1. ‘This is a perfect example of minimalistic dialogue’

    Does Nicholl-Stimpson mean ‘minimalist’? Film Ireland needs to buy a good English dictionary as the word ‘minimalistic’ does not exist outside of badly written online articles!

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