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Winner ~ Sundance Festival ~
~ World Cinema Audience Award ~

Unforgettable melody is the foundation of this heartfelt Irish romance that puts a twist on the movie musical. A passionate street troubadour with a mending heart (Irish band The Frames' Glen Hansard) lays bare his soul through poignant tunes and big dreams. He imagines rekindling the spark with his lost love and aspires to a big record deal that's just out of reach. Enter an ardent young Czech (singer-songwriter Marketa Irglova) for whom music is an escape from the daily realities of new country, single motherhood and struggling to make ends meet. He mentions his work in a Hoover repair shop; she drags her ailing vacuum out for a look. He plays guitar; she tickles the ivories. His emotional armor is slowly deconstructed by the spry enthusiasm of this buoyant creature for whom life's lemons are an indomitable excuse to make lemonade. A friendship is born of mutual attraction and details are revealed: of an unhappy marriage, ailing parents and fantasies of bigger and better things. The music is surprising: tuneful, lilting and haunting. Dublin's sidewalks are the perfect venue for the tight, subtly expressive style, which is consistently raw and distinctively handheld. Yes, it's the classic take on boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-make-beautiful-music-together, but Once keeps its narrative close to the vest, never giving up where it's going until it gets there. Both Hansard and Irglova -- billed simply as "Guy" and "Girl" because names would be superfluous -- work their simple story with refreshing candor, a touch sentimental but steadily sincere. A dramatic and endearing duet. Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly

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Directed by: 
John Carney
Running Time: 
Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, Alaistair Foley, Catherine Hansard, Senan Haugh
Screenplay by: 
John Carney

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