User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 285 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 38 out of 285

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  1. Aug 26, 2010
    10
    "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. Expand
  2. May 22, 2012
    10
    In an era soaked in trite Hollywood special effects, this film defies all convention and actually achieves greatness on the merits of simple, effective storytelling and lovable characters. And of course, the soundtrack is also fantastic, with a brilliant presentation of both melody and harmony rarely heard anymore in modern music.
  3. Nov 17, 2012
    10
    Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova star in this incredible low-budget Irish gem, as well as compose the gorgeous soundtrack, winning an Oscar for "Falling Slowly". In a decade of pushing the envelope and huge budgets, it is a simple film made on two handy-cams, that proves to touch the most viewers.
  4. Apr 1, 2012
    10
    In recent years there has been a string of movies about the music industry or that used music to tell a story. Once does neither. It uses music to compliment its story in that two musicians in Dublin find each other and through their love of music learn to move on from their respective heartaches. It's an incredibly touching movie that cannot be described, it just has to be seen. The performances by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are great and the direction is wonderful because of its simplicity. However the music in Once is the real draw as it adds flavour to the story and helps develop the burgeoning relationship between the leads. In comparison to the multitude of music films out today, including the dire High School Musical series, it is a masterpiece. Expand
  5. Sep 2, 2013
    10
    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.
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  6. Sep 25, 2013
    9
    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 Expand
  7. MTP
    May 3, 2013
    9
    Great movie, I only give it a 9 because 10 is reserved for something really extra special and there is no 9.5. I ask myself "why don't the big boys make movies like this"? The problem is they could make low budget movies but they can't keep their hands off it. What studio would put out such a movie? Production, plain and a little rough; script nice story but no action; actors, there were none in this movie; music, blows me away. The thing is in THIS movie it all works together. If this would have been a studio movie, polished by the know it alls it would just be another over edited, over acted, re-scripted, re-mixed, cut, compromised ruined masterpiece. Before I am finished a little about the music, it is real, it is good. This is real music, I am tired of studios trying to pass off lame supposed cutting edge music that some jingle composer whipped out the last night before recording. Don't plan on seeing this once, you will watch it over and over again. Expand
Metascore
88

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. Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. The film has enormous charm and zero pretense.