This weekend I went to the Laemmle 7 in Pasadena, where I have made so many movie memories that it's difficult to quantify. On Saturday at the matinee, I made another. My dad and I went to see Once, a small Irish film about love, music, and their inextricable link. It's difficult to describe Once because it is one of the least plot-driven movies I've ever seen. I keep seeing it described as the reinvented movie musical, but for some reason it doesn't come across that way to me. Musicals convey story and action in their songs, where the music in Once conveys emotion and character. There's more backstory than there is plot here, and I think that is somehow truer to life than I would have imagined. How often do we spend the day dwelling on our pasts instead of paying attention to the movement forward that we're living through? Our main characters in this movie, The Guy and The Girl, are given the chance to stop and look at what is happening to them, and it is a gift to the audience that we get to witness this landmark week in each of their lives.
The music that carries the film is absolutely stunning. The filmmaker has referred to it as a video album, and that description totally gelled with the experience I had of watching it. Sometimes I just had to close my eyes and listen to the music as it reverberated off the worn fabric lining the walls. Watching this movie for the first time is like listening to a beautiful album alone on your headphones and not wanting to escape the environment you've created between you and the music. Walking around afterwards, it took quite some time for the street sounds to permeate the dusky atmosphere I was in.
I've conveyed to you the experience of Once without being able to give any real details about the picture. I think this movie is for anyone who's ever loved music. If you understand how music can take care of you in difficult times, and exalt with you when you're happy, then you'll be moved by the songs quite a bit. I intend to buy the soundtrack as soon as I'm off work today, and listen to it until I can't anymore, for fear of being overwhelmed by it.