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

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Critic Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. 100
    In its own subdued, mellow way, Once is just about perfect.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. A miracle of a movie that is both fairy tale and slice of life.
  9. 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.
  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. 89
    Ultimately, Once transcends even its own ambitions, becoming a complex meditation on relationships, Irish culture, and music.
  14. 88
    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.
  15. 88
    What "Rent" should have been, Once is: a Bohemian rhapsody.
  16. 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.
  17. 88
    It's a magical, beguiling wonder.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Once is a film for anyone who has ever been transported by the power and passion of music.
  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.
  21. The film has enormous charm and zero pretense.
  22. 80
    Yet the magic of the movie is how utterly wrenching it renders these songs, which thrive alongside the film's simple, eloquent, dusky narrative.
  23. 80
    Once feels handmade in the best sense, an impressionistic feast for the senses cobbled together from lovely grace notes and a warm palette of reds and yellows.
  24. 80
    Although there's plenty of music, and plenty of joy, in Once, it's ultimately a quiet, wistful picture.
  25. 80
    Even the uninitiated will be hard-pressed to resist the movie's charms, from its likable leading players and its charming Dublin setting to its wistful take on modern love.
  26. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    The year’s most pleasant cinematic surprise. Once has enough heart, wit, verve and sheer songwriting genius to ensure you’ll see it far more times than its title suggests.
  27. 75
    This isn't a perfect motion picture but, in the midst of summer's vapid pursuit of spectacle, a movie that provides real heart and emotion is a rare find.
  28. Once isn't especially complex, but the chemistry between its appealing leads (who contribute to the lovely score) feels deeply true. You'd have to look awfully hard to find such sincerity in a Hollywood romance.
  29. This is a very little film with a very large heart.
  30. This simple story of a Guy and a Girl and their music is very appealing.
  31. 75
    I can't imagine anyone seeing Once and not instantly falling in love with it.
  32. 70
    A film of limited production values, a low-quality picture and the occasional flubbed camera move. But it makes up for these flaws with sharp observations, compelling characters and a great collection of music.
  33. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Winningly unpretentious tale uses a wispy romantic narrative as a vehicle for attractive original tunes.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 326 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 164
  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"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. BitBurn
    Aug 22, 2009
    The magic of this film definitely lies in the power of the music but with an added bonus: the low-budget simplicity of how it is all executed The magic of this film definitely lies in the power of the music but with an added bonus: the low-budget simplicity of how it is all executed before your eyes...absolute beauty. Full Review »
  3. MarkB.
    Jan 22, 2008
    I can't get the movie or the music out of my head weeks after seeing it. It is simply the best movie musical of all time.