Music from film Once can stand on its own

Pavel Turek
29. 1. 2008 10:30
The soundtrack for the film Once is finally out

Review - We all know that film, right? It's about a poor girl from a dysfunctional family who sells flowers on the street.

She develops a relationship with an older man, who used to know where he stands in life, but against all odds she drives him to change his life and do the unthinkable.

Of course, that's My Fair Lady or, wait, it's Once!

Knit sweaters and emotions

It is amazing how similar the storylines are in the two films. The only difference is that instead of the Cecil Beaton's costumes and Broadway choreography, Once features knit sweaters, half-finger gloves and unprompted awkwardness.

Though timidity replaced pomp and circumstance, the emotional appeal is very similar in the two pictures, if you consider the contemporary target audiences.

This may be one of the reasons for the popularity of both the film and the soundtrack, which was nominated for a Grammy and is currently the fourth most popular album on iTunes.

The soundtrack for Once conveys the mood of the film. Eliza Doolittle, I mean, Markéta Irglová has her own rendition of Wouldn't It Be Loverly, in the guise of If You Want Me and the dreamy solo in The Hill.

The rest of the album, though, relies heavily on professor Hansard, excuse me, Higgins. No wait, Hansard.

About you and me

This is not to say that it is a bad soundtrack. It actually creates the much needed space for the songs to stand on their own two feet and to separate themselves from a rather simplistic story about people like you and me.

It allows for the songs to be interpreted as more then the brainchild of a movie-world vacuum repairman. 

We can finally stop pondering over why an amateur street musician waited this long to record a demo, when his work is so refined and full of professional intricacies.

Hansard tries imitating an amateur in Fallen From the Sky, but even here the use of a simple beat seems more of a nod to the Lo-Fi trend than a show of inexperience.

Reflecting the "real" feelings

On the other hand, if some of the tracks seem too soulfully stylized in order to reflect "real" feelings, you can always blame it on the fact that this is music made for film and everything looks better on the silver screen.

Repeat this to yourself whenever the passionate strain of the otherwise stable and mature Hansard goes from the Damien Rice levels into the red zone of David Gray.

Admittedly, Once is a bit disjointed, combining some tracks already seen on Hansard and Irglová's previous album The Swell Season with those burdened by their cinematographic relevance. Nonetheless, it is a pleasant listen.

While you're listening to the album, it may also strike you that it's not all that bad living on this planet. In the end, we are all good people and the greatest suffering that could really befall you is breaking up with a partner.

Now isn't that swell? They really should get that Oscar.

Once soundtrack. CD, 44 minutes, Canvasback, 2007, Sony Music distribution.


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