Year of Release: 2007     Directed by John Carney.   Starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

How often do we get a chance to follow our dreams?  How many opportunities have we missed through inactivity, fear, or insecurity?  If a once in a life time opportunity comes along, do we jump at it or let it pass?  Do we only jump if we are ready and have prepared for the opportunity?  Or can we take advantage of the opportunity if it is completely unexpected?

The musical, Once, explores all of these questions.  It tells the story of a nameless songwriter (Glen Hansard) in Ireland who has an unexpected once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue his dream as a musician when he meets a nameless Czech pianist (Marketa Irglova) who shares his passion for music.

Due to past and present hardships, both of them are hesitant to pursue their musical talents as more than hobbies.  But they both can sense that their meeting each is a special opportunity.  Director John Carney captures their mixed emotions as they weave in and out of each others lives, debating whether they should seize the opportunity or let it pass.

One song from the film, Falling Slowly, describes their situation.  The refrain goes, “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 known.”  The two musicians have a choice to pursue this opportunity that might give their lives new direction.  It is not too late for them to still pursue their dreams; they still have time.  They have made it known they have through their songwriting and performing.

Their music, or their art, is their hopeful voice.  True art illuminates man’s desire for redemption, either consciously or subconsciously.  Both the guy and the girl want redemption from their bleak world of poverty, broken families, and failed opportunities.  Their music serves as a hopeful voice for both of them; it is a striving for and awareness of something more beautiful and happier than the current situation.  Art is the golden sky at the end of the storm.  In the end, both of them do choose the path that is best for them in their current state of life.

Like these two musicians, many people often feel that their lives are floundering and sinking.  When they can find the correct reason to live, they can still be brought back and pointed home.  The correct reason to live is to fulfill one’s vocation.  Both the guy and the girl have the best opportunity of their lives to fulfill their vocations.  Whether they jump at this surprise chance or let it pass, is completely up to them.  There is always a choice to pursue an opportunity or let it pass.

In making the film, the filmmakers took advantage of one of these opportunities.  According to the star and composer Glen Hansard, the film was shot in three weeks with two hand held cameras on a $100,000 budget.  The camera use was masterful at capturing day to day details of their lives, whether it was playing guitar in the street, admiring pianos in a music shop, riding a motorcycle together, or playing Frisbee on the beach.

Carpe diem; take advantage of each moment, each opportunity or gift that comes one’s way.  If we fear failure and let once in a lifetime opportunities slip by because we may mess up, we will never achieve happiness or success.  We will only find success if we can take a risk and expose ourselves to possible failure.  As writer Gene Perret said, “The worst thing I ever wrote is better than the best thing I never wrote.”

Content Advisory: Occasional casual crass and obscene language.                             MPAA rating: R

Suggested Audience: Teens and up with discernment

Personal Recommendation: A+


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  1. La La Land | Catholic Cinephile

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