The Swell Season
Once: Music From The Motion Picture


4.5
superb

Review

by radianteclipse USER (26 Reviews)
July 13th, 2008 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova convert on screen chemistry to musical bliss.

Promptly coming out of nowhere, the movie Once managed to beat the odds and become somewhat of a hit, especially with it's darkhorse victory for best song at the Oscar's for the incredibly beautiful ballad "Falling Slowly". A fitting song, for the equally as beautiful film, shot with only two cameras in seventeen days on a roughly one hundred thousand dollar budget, not to mention no prior acting experience by the two leading stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

And that's what makes this film magical, the "actors" succeed without experience because they are not taken far out of their element. Both Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are good friends, and had already been making music with one another prior to their inclusion in the film. The film was created by the ex-bass player of the Frames (Glen Hansard's main musical project) and neither Glen nor Marketa were intended to be the original actors in the film. How fitting it seems, that despite that they take control of their roles and put on one of the most down to earth performances you will find, finding common ground in the one thing they both know best...music.

And that's what this film is all about. Music. Music makes up a little over half the film, and was written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova themselves. That being said, this movie relies entirely on this to set the mood and progress the plot, which it does successfully.

The movie basically is about a connection between two people and a man's musical genius inspired by heartbreak. Just take a listen to "Say it to me Now", the first peak at Glen Hansard's genius featured, being played on the streets of Dublin, Ireland at night. It's an Open E tuned extremely simplistic but dramatically sorrowful song, relying on his gentle guitar playing and fragile and highly emotional voice to carry the song until the song builds and and erupts into an emotionally wretching explosion with features Glen singing at the top of his lungs and echoeing through the alleys.

And that's the common theme throughout the soundtrack, downtrodden tracks of sorrow and longing. And also of hope and intrigue. "Falling Slowly", the first collaboration between Marketa and Glen in the movie is a most wonderful display of beauty. Fingerpicked guitar, a lovely piano melody and lovely intertwining vocals between the two stars make for a very lovely song, and one that makes the musical compatability of these two actors very relevant. Played in the backdrop of a music store in Ireland, it has a very raw feel to it, even if the album version does contain strings and other various instrumentation.

While most of the album maintains the general sorrowful songwriting approach displayed by the vast numbers of downtrodden and slow paced acoustic ballads, never do any on them begin to feel stale or lifeless. Each and every song is filled with tremendous amounts of emotion and are very genuine and endearing. And with Glen Hansard's Irish accent and Marketa's simple yet effective backing vocals it shares a striking resemblence to another young Irish songwriter by the name of Damien Rice. That may ring a bell. Some work is even tearjerking, such as the desperate "Lies", a slow paced manifestation of heartbreak, being played in the movie by Hansard while watching a video of him and his ex-girlfriend on his laptop, truly connecting the song to the sorrow within. And the breathtakingly beautiful piano ballad "The Hill" played intimately solo by Marketa Irglova and produces one of the most beautful and chill inducing moments on the entire album. A scene in the film in which she actually breaks down crying before she can even finish the song.

Not every track takes this approach. The quirky and rather upbeat "Fallen From the Sky" has a very laid back and cheerful feel to it, with a rather interesting synth line driving the song over top a simplistic acoustic melody. Along with the hilarious story of the main character's cheating ex girlfriend in country western form with "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy." And the only non- Hansard track on the album (although he does do vocals), called "Gold" by the band Interference, a traditional sounding Irish folk song, and a beautiful one at that. Also, the vibrant and colorful "Trying to Pull Myself Away" offers a pleasant and lively change of pace from the rest of the album, coming as close to sounding like the Frames than anything else on this album.

Overall, as an album, this is a worthy listen, although to truly get the full effect and to truly feel the two character's musical love affair watch the film first. It will amplify the meaning and the feel of the tracks dramatically, and will make an overall pleasant listen truly memorable in every sense of the word. Possibly the best musical movie you will ever see in your lifetime, and some of the best music you'll hear these days as well.



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user ratings (97)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
BallsToTheWall
July 13th 2008


44593 Comments


Resubmit or no? Regardless, great review for an amazing film. Still need this however. Edit the art and track listing though.

Digging: Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

radianteclipse
July 13th 2008


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It is a resubmit yes...hold on I may have done something wrong here...

Djnx
July 13th 2008


85 Comments


Nice.

radianteclipse
July 13th 2008


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There we goo

natey
July 13th 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Most of these songs rock. Good content in the review but it's a little jerky grammatically and you made some is/are + sentence slip-ups etc. I loathed the album you're digging btw.

radianteclipse
July 13th 2008


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Meh, not a Drive-By Truckers fan? Understandable.

Oddsen
July 13th 2008


1127 Comments


from what i've heard from this it sounds pretty much the same as damien rice

foreverendeared
July 14th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

from what i've heard from this it sounds pretty much the same as damien rice

not really at all. love them both thoThis Message Edited On 07.14.08

BallsToTheWall
July 15th 2008


44593 Comments


Is wikipedia really correct that Marketa's only 20? I'm quite flabbergasted really, 88, wow.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 15th 2008


7926 Comments


Yeah, she's 20. It's a pretty fucking creepy relationship.

brandtweathers
July 19th 2008


2007 Comments


blah blah blah blah falsely independent film blah blah blah blah falsely honest songs blah blah blah blah my ex girlfriend won't shut up
easily defined by cocaine

jrowa001
September 8th 2008


8750 Comments


finally saw this movie and im ordering the soundtrack right now. it was amazing.

ShatteredSoul
March 30th 2009


110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great movie with excellent soundtrack. Love it, as it comes purely from the heart.

NebSnurb
July 28th 2009


535 Comments


The movie and the soundtrack are real good, its been a while since Ive seen and listened.

DiceMan
June 10th 2010


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just watched this, then listened to the soundtrack, then rated the soundtrack... So good.

DiceMan
July 18th 2010


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

THIS IS WHAT YOU'VE WAITED FOOOORRRR.

Best song on the album.

Lakes.
August 17th 2010


28362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Movie is amazing. I'd heard this before but the movie made the songs twice as good.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Waior
December 14th 2010


11454 Comments


mmmm

Lakes.
July 31st 2012


28362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the hill is the most beautiful song ever written

scottpilgrim10
March 18th 2014


4198 Comments


Falling Slowly is beautiful.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End



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