How to describe an R-rated love story where everyone keeps their clothes on? In this music-filled little enchantment, the rating seems more because the f-word shows up occasionally than because anything seriously untoward happens on screen. In fact, the unfolding of the romantic attraction between the two main characters is as understated as the music is seamless in its meshing of story and atmosphere.

The website for the film describes it as:

A modern day musical set on the streets of Dublin. Featuring Glen Hansard from the Irish band “The Frames,” the film tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse, and record songs that reveal their unique love story.

The Celtic setting gives the film its emotional environment and the feel of a documentary, especially when you realize the main characters are played by the real people behind the project. And yet, the story hangs together well, moving us through stages both awkward and touching to an unexpected but incredibly moving finish. It’s not hard to see why the film won the Sundance Festival’s 2007 “World Audience” award and why it won the Best Original Song Academy Award® for “Falling Slowly.” When it arrived on Broadway in 2012, the Tony Awards acknowledged its appeal with eight awards, including Best Musical, and, in 2013, it received the Grammy Award for the Best Musical Theater Album.

Although the film found only limited release in US theaters during the summer 2007, it made its way to a burg the size of Des Moines, Iowa. If your local cineplex was stuck in Transformers mode that year, you’ll need to find the DVD or put it in your Netflix queue.

If you haven’t heard of Hansard, Irglova, or Hansard’s band “The Frames” before this, you may come away from the film a big-time fan. The pair now perform as “The Swell Season” and Hansard continues with The Frames.

Whether you enjoyed Once with your popcorn buddies or just want to get a sense of the buzz, check out the website (from US distributor FoxSearchlight) for lots of scenes, sounds, news, YouTube clips from the film (including the trailer), music videos by Hansard and Irglova, soundtrack downloads, and a link to the film’s Facebook page, among other goodies. It’s a keeper.

Cast: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
Writer / Director: John Carney
Music: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Theatrical release: 2006; available on DVD

Copyright ©2013 Jill J. Jensen | Clarity from Chaos