Not Twice, Just…
Most soundtracks are scored to solely accompany an existing story. The songs penned for John Carney’s film Once are the backbone and emotional soul of the movie. The film’s stars and resident songwriters, The Frames’ lead singer Glen Hansard and Czech musician Marketa Irglova, tell a tale of two wayward spirits adrift in misery over prior relationships.When the two characters meet they instantly establish an effortless connection and chemistry through their musical talents. On “Falling Slowly” the words build in passion, starting as a tragic murmur (“I don’t know you / but I want you”) then swelling into a heartwarming refrain (“Take this sinking boat / and point it home / we’ve still got time / raise your hopeful voice / you have a choice / you’ve made it now”) over plucked guitar and piano.
Irglova’s opening words on the solemn “If You Want Me” are enough to inspire careful introspection. As if blooming from an endless darkness, “Are you really here / or am I dreaming?” sends a chill down the spine as a stuttered drum machine tap pushes the song into epic trip-hop territory.
While some tunes tackle larger existential issues of love and loss the title track “Once,” “Lies” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up” reflect purely on the unmitigated frustration of romantic failure. The last of these three features a jaw-dropping vocal rendering during the bridge before Hansard and Irglova rejoin for the line, “There’s no point trying to change it / when your mind’s made up.”
Delving deeper into past rejections, Glen Hansard’s concise “Leave” cracks open the little composure he has left and defiantly demands, “Leave / let go of my heart / you’ve said what you have to now leave,” before an unforgettable screaming climax. Using music Hansard and Irglova bridge the pit of dejection with a path to redemption. It allows them to heal, vent and unwind, allowing for clarity and progress. It’s uplifting. It’s beautiful.