I love to sing, and I've sung both solo and with a band. There's a certain feeling in the atmosphere when the vocals and intrumentation come together in just the right way that is almost explosively beautiful, when all the hair stands up on your arms and you can almost see the music floating across the air. It's at that moment that you think, "I could do this forever," and you believe it with everything that's in you, and you sing or you play with abandon and your smile breaks free of your face and you lean back and close your eyes and die just a little with the joy of it.
There are several moments like that in Once, an Irish film about a man who decides that busking on the streets of Dublin isn't enough anymore. It's probably not a coincidence that he's energized by a girl, a stranger who is caught up in his songs as she passes by, selling magazines. Their collaboration pushes him finally to begin the process of recording and shopping his demo.
There is a story in the film, but it's secondary. The main focus is the music, as it should be, because you guys: it's good. The simplicity of a guitar melded with a backing piano, the unforced blend of two voices, one raw with the ache of a dream deferred, and one low and sweet with what-might-have-beens.
The musical production seems very organic to me, which is, to my mind, far superior to the overproduced "songs" that are currently on the radio (I have no love for the top 40; I don't even listen to the radio anymore). The movie takes you through the process of songwriting, showing inspirations, false starts, and the marriage of music and lyrics that results in the perfect song.
There's one scene in particular, when the makeshift band goes into the studio and records together for the first time ... it is just magnificent, really. It feels like it's real, okay, I don't know how to explain it. To me--and this is just based on my own experience--it feels like everything fell into place for the musicians and everything starts to jive, and they can improvise and every person in the band knows exactly what every other person is going to do, like they have telepathy or something, and it is just a joyful, powerful jam and it's almost like being high (erm ... or so I've heard), like an out-of-body experience, and for, like, fifteen minutes they feel like EVERYTHING IS RIGHT.
I love that scene.
The music's stronger than the story, I think, but the music is good enough to carry it, for sure.