If you want to hear an Irish cinematic song in full bloom then Once is something genuine and worthy to crossover to arthouse audiences.
Musical dramas generally don't fare well, especially this sensitively drawn one by John Carney who also wrote the screenplay. But, this Irish-based drama clicks from Carney's professional experience in rock music, similar to what The Commitments did nearly two decades ago.
Irish singer Glen Hansard is well cast as a forelorn guitarist who oddly joins up with Czechoslavakian ex-patriate, flower-peddler acted luminously by 18-year-old Market Irglova. Their initial meeting on a dark Dublin avenue is something out of a dream.
Carney lets the proceedings unfold with a sure hand of a composer that lets Hansard's feelings speak with tuneful veracity. Thematic resonance comes from the peering and circumstances that reflect a culture, and the relationship convinces on a deep emotional level.
The union of opposite ends of Europe also takes hold in a melodious, engaging way, as Hansard expresses much during a courtship. And, Irglova's supple, somewhat battered turn exceeds an ingenue in a picture that beautifully renders the joyous universality of song.