Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 33
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 33
  3. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    Once is the kind of film I've been pestered about ever since I started reviewing again. People couldn't quite describe it, but they said I had to see it. I had to. Well, I did. They were right.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Once is the first rock musical that actually makes sense. People don't burst into song in this movie because the orchestra's swelling out of nowhere. The guy and the girl are working musicians -- or they'd like to be, if they could make a living at it -- and they're played by working musicians.
  3. It's a very small piece, working in a deceptively casual storytelling style. But it's my favorite music film since "Stop Making Sense," and it's more emotionally satisfying than any of the Broadway-to-Hollywood adaptations made in the last 20 years.
  4. Until Once, I'm not sure that I'd ever seen a small-scale, nonstylized, kitchen-sink drama in which the songs take on the majesty and devotion of a musical dream.
  5. A miracle of a movie that is both fairy tale and slice of life.
  6. 100
    The music is so rich and completely satisfying and the characters so appealing Once makes us believe that this is all happening right in front of our eyes. We fall for each of these young people at the precise moment they are falling for each other, and what could be better than that?
  7. Once proves to be as smart and funny as it is sweet; it swirls with ambiguity and conflict beneath a simple surface. In all of 88 minutes, Mr. Carney's singular fable follows its guy and girl through a week of musical and emotional growth that could suffice for a lifetime.
  8. 100
    The songs don't advance the narrative lyrically so much as follow the two characters' uncertain relationship through the slow realization of their themes; in particular a scene in which they first jam together in the back room of a music store is a gem.
  9. 100
    In its own subdued, mellow way, Once is just about perfect.
  10. 91
    Music aside, what finally puts Once over and makes it a film you can watch more than once is its slight but thoroughly credible realism.
  11. There's not a false moment within the film's 88-minute running time, nor many that could be done any better.
  12. 90
    Its low-key affect and decidedly human scale endow Once with an easy, lovable charm that a flashier production could never have achieved. The formula is simple: two people, a few instruments, 88 minutes and not a single false note.
  13. Reviewed by: Toddy Burton
    Ultimately, Once transcends even its own ambitions, becoming a complex meditation on relationships, Irish culture, and music.
  14. 88
    It's a magical, beguiling wonder.
  15. 88
    What "Rent" should have been, Once is: a Bohemian rhapsody.
  16. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Focusing strictly on stripped-down performances of great music and the charming chemistry between the two leads, it's a perfectly realized yet unassuming movie that deserves to find a big audience.
  17. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Once is a film for anyone who has ever been transported by the power and passion of music.
  18. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    Once may not boast stellar production values or elaborate dance numbers, but in its own scruffy way it captures the spirit of the genre better than any recent Hollywood musical.
  19. Most movies have music, some movies are musicals, but very few movies combine the two with the grace and pure eloquence of Once.
  20. The film drags a bit and Irglova's inexperience as an actor sometimes leaves her costars in the lurch. But it's a sweet little film just the same.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 280 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 160
  1. Aug 26, 2010
    "Once" works so well in the realm of its own simplicity: two people connect over their love of music, and the week that they share together is fulfilling enough to last a lifetime. The music, written and performed by the two leads Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, is pure bliss and the movie is an independent film, so the dialogue and character interactions are allowed to feel genuine. Full Review »
  2. Sep 25, 2013
    This film proves that as long as you have a decent script and acting, the film will work just fine. Newbies try to act extra smart and bring in special effects and CGI, forgetting what it really takes to make a film tick. It is about two people passionately in love with music, and finding support in each other. The plot is even more simple than that, and that's where the beauty of the film lies. I recommend this to all music lovers Full Review »
  3. Sep 2, 2013
    There are no shiny sets, larger than life characters or unorthodox costumes in this modern day musical, but this is an unorthodox musical in itself, and is a touching story of friendship, talent and unlikely partnerships in unlikely circumstances. We all pass the 'Big Issue' seller or the talented busker in the town, granted they aren't always talented but anyway, here we have two unlikely companions in the form of a busker man (Glen Hansard) and 'Big Issue' seller woman (Mark├ęta Irglova) they are not named in the film, part from the mans father calling him 'son', they meet each other over talks about vacuum cleaners and songs, songs which they begin writing together, the man lives with his dad and frequently goes out busking in an attempt for more money, but realise he holds into grief from a previous relationship which his new companion picks up on almost immediately. They together attempt to 'make it big' and in the process learn plenty about each other, what is most striking about this is the ordinary of nature of it all, they both live working class and simple lives, but never play the big ego card of dreaming for the stars, they happen across one another and practice together in a music store on their lunch breaks, he lives a routine of helping his dad and chasing young people trying to steal is busking profit, she is from another country and sells flowers, more than likely to fund her mother and daughter who also live with her.
    This plain and realistic approach shows a very unique element with 'Once', we usually have a musical number in a film with orchestras, fireworks or some massive backing group, but here we have more candid and realistic situations, she needs batteries for her CD player, and so she sings the song to herself on her way back home, while he may be standing outside HMV attempting to put more money in his pocket, these don't have the expensive boom that bigger budget musicals would have, but these just feel so much more personal, natural and real.
    The performances of the two leads are grounded and true, it feels quite real as if a documentary is happening, especially a particular scene in a recording studio which just hits all the right notes, breathtaking comes mind. This is a true treasure of a film with an honest approach and budget style of filmmaking, it is a musical through and through which feels real, natural, mainly because these are first and foremost musicians, the documentary style benefits this while we also having a compelling story and typical Irish humour that mixes nicely with an otherwise slow and steady film.
    Full Review »