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Once represents everything I like and dislike about the singer/songwriter cult. The music was great, at times moving, at other times catchy, and frequently a little bit of both. Both Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, especially Irglova, are charming in their own rights. But none of this makes Once an especially good movie or film experience.

I found Once to be slow and plodding whenever music wasn’t a part of the action. The first 20 minutes or so took too long to get going, although once Irglova came into the picture, the film’s prospects brightened. She had a certain glow about her, kind of like Amanda Bynes’ inexplicable appeal, that was engaging.

But even then, I interpreted Once as a series of cool music videos about the interplay between writer and artist. Any movie that plays better in two or three YouTube clips can’t be a very good movie, and Once is a good example of that. This scene, in the recording studio, captures the magic of the creative process that so few films have failed at doing (Ratatouille comes to mind). But without a strong narrative structure to bind all these great clips together, Once falters as a cohesive movie.

 

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