Mark Kermode Reviews Once (2007) | BFI Player

Mark Kermode Reviews Once (2007) | BFI Player


My BFI Player choice this week is quite simply one of my favourite films of the 21st century a tale of love and busking that was made for nothing and went on to become an award-winning international hit that charmed audiences around the world and even spawned a popular stage show John Carney’s lovely ‘Once’ ‘I’m gonna go to London’ ‘I’ve decided’ ‘Good – that’s great!’ ‘Yeah it’s good – it makes sense’ ‘Well done’ ‘When are you going?’ ‘I’m gonna go Monday’ ‘Wow – that’s soon! ‘ ‘You’ll get your girlfriend back’ ‘and you’ll get your record deal’ ‘and become famous’ ‘Good!’ ‘But listen, I was thinking before I go I wanna make a recording of a few songs’ ‘Couple of songs I was playing you’ ‘and I really like the way you played and you were singing so…’ ‘Do you feel like…’ ‘Would you be into like coming and playing ’em?’ ‘I would sing and play?’ ‘Yeah’ ‘I’d love that!’ ‘Really?’ ‘Cool – so you’d be in my band for a few days?’ ‘Yeah!’ ‘Well that’s the first thing…’ ‘That’s the first thing I’ve got sorted out’ ‘Now I just need to sort everything else out…’ Carney had originally earmarked actor/musician Cillian Murphy for the lead role in ‘Once’ Of the singer/songwriter whom we first meet busking on the streets of Dublin But Murphy wasn’t sure he could pull off the vocals which had to be performed live and he was also apparently nervous about starring opposite musician and screen newcomer Markéta Irglová Instead, Carney – who had played bass in The Frames turned to his band-mate Glen Hansard who had previously appeared in Alan Parker’s ‘The Commitments’ and who promptly stepped into the fray Shot in three weeks on two Handicams for around a hundred grand Once took its leads from the streets of Dublin to the stages of Hollywood At the 80th Academy Awards Irglová and Hansard won the Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘Falling Slowly’ In his acceptance speech Hansard told viewers to ‘Make art! Make art!’ and when Irglová was cut off by the orchestra the host broke with tradition and invited her back on stage to tell the world that ‘‘No matter how far out’ ‘Your dreams are possible’ Carney would go on to revisit some of the themes of ‘Once’ in ‘Begin Again’ an underrated picture starring Keira Knightley which nonetheless found the writer-director somewhat out of his comfort zone Altogether more successful was ‘Sing Street’ an autobiographically influenced story of a Dublin school band in the 80s which proved every bit as joyous as ‘Once’ Nobody knows this world better than Carney Embrace it

1 Comment on "Mark Kermode Reviews Once (2007) | BFI Player"


  1. One of my all time favourites too. A great, honest filmmaking style and Glen Hansard, WOW! His solo albums are outstanding & see him live for the ultimate experience.

    I didn’t want to see Carney’s later films as they seemed to glossy or polished compared to the realism of “ONCE”.

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