The Irish version of “99 Bottles of Beer” is a lot longer … and done with real beer.

Golden Mug

Best Song (“Say It To Me Now” by Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová)

Best Picture
Songs (“Falling Slowly”, “When Your Mind’s Made Up”, “If You Want Me” by Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová)

Theatrical Release Date: 03/23/2007 (Ireland), 05/16/2007 (USA)
Director: John Carney
Cast: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová

Every now and then, a true gem is presented on the silver screen and direct from Ireland comes a truly remarkable experience. “Once” is the story of a talented Irish busker and a Czech woman, who meet by chance, fall in love and record an album all within a week. Saying anything more about the plot would be the biggest disservice I could do to this film.

The performances are beautiful and natural. Glen Hansard (lead singer of the Irish band “The Frames”) and Markéta Irglová play the kind of couple we all wish we could be.

The entire film has a documentary feel to it that will allow anyone with a heart to relate. It’s a storybook put to music and dropped into Dublin and it’s been a long time since a film had this amount of unbridled romance and hope all tempered with a genuine sense of reality.

The music is all done by the actors themselves and is some of the very best in the singer-songwriter genre that’s come out in some time. It’s practically a musical, with so much of the action and story being told through the words in the songs. Though for any of you who might fear musicals, this isn’t “Chicago” or this summer’s “Hairspray”. No, the music is completely organic and natural, nothing feels forced.

It’s almost like that daydream you run in your own head when you’re out driving while you play your favorite album. The music gets inside of your thoughts and everything just becomes one beautiful and possibly heartbreaking vision.

The biggest knock on the film I can make is that I didn’t buy the soundtrack before the film so I could immediately select the play list on the way home. Now that I have the soundtrack, I can appropriately review the film.

I do recommend, however, that you do not listen to the music before seeing the film. Since it is so interconnected with the story, you might ruin the beautiful ways the words flesh out the images on screen.

From a film making aspect, so much of the film seemed to have been done with only natural light and with a very grainy image, all to create the sense of realism that plays out on screen. It’s very reminiscent of the Dogme 95 movement from Denmark and I am a big proponent of using those principles when dealing with such sincere stories and characters.

“Once” is a film that almost anyone can relate to. The story isn’t aimed at a specific audience and I think anyone who frequents this site will find the same wonder in this film that I did. An easy 5 out of 5, I’m going to be listening to the soundtrack for a long time to come and will probably pop back into the theaters a few more times over the next few weeks. This DVD can’t come out soon enough for me.

And if you’re still reading this, stop it and get out to whatever theater is showing “Once”. I’m going to have to make room in my all time top 10 favorite films for this one … now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit and listen to the rest of the soundtrack now.