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4.19.2008

ONCE

Once
Directed and Written by John Carney













Pin it all down to a moment that melts your heart like butter and gets in your eyes and sums it all up, and there it is, at the back of a music store, the brokenhearted busker giving the girl sitting on the piano a song to sing, a song he wrote for that other girl he can’t forget but transferable by fate and now a song for whoever, for the unfound One, the possibility beheld- - -“I don’t know you, but I want you, all the more for that . . .” What do you make of that hook when it digs into you and it’s someone you've just met? The giddy shaking to the core over a perfect stranger? It's all about the low spark when random lives overlap and emotional happenstance meshes into story. It's all about the angels shitting on you.

I break this down in my head over and over , out of how it sends me on so little, out of how words fail. Emotional happenstance is an old trope. Emotional happenstance without even a tic of melodrama is ,too, but it throws you on a loop for being so unfussy and honest. Boy meets girl, sort of fall in love, sing a lot. You can jot it down in the back of a bar napkin, like John Carney did, like you can with any love story. Boy’s Irishborn romantic depressive songwriter-in-waiting. Girl’s blithe Czech émigré, husbandless but with kid. She visits him at home and he makes a pass at her - - - lonely boys will be boys. He asks her if she loves her boy’s Dad and she answers cryptically in her own tongue which she wouldn’t if it was a yes and yet . . . yeah, women. Has all the niggling, baffling colors and noise and static that make men men and women women but still,I break it down and get parts that shouldn't fit but somehow do. I get a series of brief encounters banal on paper and on its own but somehow incandescent on a string. I get an ending I fervently wish is a beginning. I get naked and hurtful indiefolk love songs, fucking beautiful throughout and majestic at least three times, and blame it all on its wise mush.

And the way Glen Hansard & Marketa Iglova have with it, a delicate and almost icky earnestness that toes the line it has to cross before it becomes precious, a sense of its own vulnerability that refuses to back off, a clenching of all the tenderness and beyond loneliness and agony and pissed-offness into fists of pure emotion that not only catches in your throat but gets sticky in your forebrain. Marketa breaking down at her piano in the dark in The Hill. The skeptical engineer cracking a smile when he hears the cascading triumphalism of When Your Mind's Made Up. The indignant desperate yearning of Say It To Me Now - - -" . . . 'cause this is what you've waited for,a chance to even up the score, and as these shadows fall on me now, I will somehow, and if you have something to say you'd better say it now . . .” - - - that turns Glen's voice to gravel. The music store duet when it hits that tearjerky chorus - - -“take this sinking boat and steer it home, we’ve still got time”. Something for the longing. Tears on my pillow.

And the déjà vu when the songs snap into place as if you’ve heard them before. I have,sort of. And so have you. I’ve played some song just like any of these to myself in the grotty dark of my bedroom, headphones cutting me off from the cruel world, nursing a bottle of whisky, pining and pissed-off at the ex who left me for someone else or somesuch romantic crash and burn, poeticizing the apocalypse in my gut - - - which is really just me blowing trouble out of proportion but dammit if it doesn’t hurt and nag - - - with a pop song someone else wrote but feels uncannily as if whoever did fed a wiretap into my brain for grist. And I hang everything on its grasp of this eternal and emotional universality, also the singular virtue of the songs closest to our hearts, the pop beloved if you will. And there's no escaping how much song centers this.

If you can't be with the one you love , love the one you’re with - - - Stephen Stills was a prophet for nailing the dynamics of most modern relationships. And there may be a planet of difference between choice and decision but sometimes the stakes can be too high so you pretend there isn't. But much as true love may never run smooth for all the odds you have to buck getting there , it will find you in the end. Naive as it makes me, I hold out hope in that. And maybe it's just me but when Glen smiles to himself rushing to catch a plane and Marketa looks out the window, I can tell they do,too.

5 comments:

jayclops said...

Oh my gosh, you just effing nailed it, hehehe. And now I'm not ashamed if I gushed when the camera finally goes out of the window and that familiar sound of Falling Slowly reverberates again in my head. *Sigh*

dodo dayao said...

Ah that lovely, lovely moment . . . brings tears to my eyes. :) Oh,and thanks.

ninyabaler said...

I have a copy of this movie but didn't have the time to watch it. Now I will find time to watch it. As I was moved by your post, maybe the movie will bring back the belief I was once lost in my search for true love.

dodo dayao said...

I really hope so.

And thanks for reading. :)

ninyabaler said...

You're welcome. I read all your posts. I wish I can write as cohesive as you are. Take care :)