Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
"Once" is more than enough. This cinematic treat from Ireland is a simple story told with grace and heart, a bittersweet slice of Bohemian life, and a glimpse at the wondrous alchemy of music-making complete with a handful of swoon-worthy original songs played with skill and deep feeling. It's also a showcase for the talents of Glen Hansard, the genial leader of the fine Irish rock band The Frames, and Markéta Irglová, winsome Czech singer and instrumentalist. In this unconventional, unpretentious, naturalistic film from director/screenwriter John Carney, two lost souls find solace in one another, and in the power of music. Their relationship starts in an offhand manner: A busker (Hansard) sings and plays his guitar on the streets of Dublin for spare change from passersby. A young Eastern European woman (Irglová) approaches and compliments him. Their random encounter triggers a connection that, in a matter of days, develops into something personally and artistically profound. You can call it a love story, but it's decidedly not the Hollywood variety. Besides depicting the catalytic effect that these two people have on one another, "Once" captures the ways that music is conjured the loneliness of the creative process, and the joy of collaboration and how music can reflect one's life the struggles, the setbacks, the triumphs and how it can transfigure people. Although light on plot, flash, and splash, it's a little picture that offers big rewards: touching drama, a bit of whimsy, and achingly beautiful tunes that you may want to seek out on disc or MP3 when the show is over.