The 2007 movie Once, written and directed by John Carney, takes place in Ireland and stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. These two have since toured together as The Swell Season, and they received the Oscar for Best Song for "Falling Slowly," this movie's standout song. Once is about an unnamed man and woman, since keeping them nameless gives the film a more mysterious and timeless quality. He is an Irish street musician, while she is a Czech piano player who sells flowers for a living. The two of them meet on the street one day and decide to try making music together. They gel so well that they decide to cut an album together with the help of some backing musicians. Both of them are short on resources, so they throw everything they have into this venture before parting ways in hopes that both will achieve their musical dreams.
This is an unusual film in that it tells a love story that does not have a traditional happy ending, yet both parties end with a feeling of fulfillment in having known each other and touched one another's souls through their music. There is very little physical contact between the two. Instead, there is a mystical musical fusion. The movie contains more songs than dialogue, and it's intriguing to see the ways in which the film explores story through song.
Once cost very little to make, and the film style is very simple and almost entirely focused on these two characters, with the man's endearing father and the musicians who help with the demo CD also coming into the story. The movie did much better than anyone expected and because a surprise indie hit, not only being watched by millions of people and garnering an Oscar but also being made into a Broadway musical.
Once is a story about the power of music, and the behind the scenes story about the way this humble little film managed to capture so many hearts underscores the message about the impact that music created from the heart can have on people.