By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sweet, romantic musical hits all the right notes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lots of emphasis is placed on pursuing your dreams, and the couple is very supportive of each other's wants and needs.
Positive Role Models
The characters develop a wonderful, delicate, and respectful romance; from the onset, they treat each other like equals (a rare thing onscreen). Characters care for both their elders and their children with grace. A couple of sour notes: Lots of swearing, and a man drives after some drinks and no sleep.
Violence & Scariness
No overt violence, but some potentially upsetting scenes related to poverty -- families shoehorned into very small apartments, for instance.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man propositions a woman, but indirectly and awkwardly. One mention of "hanky panky," but in a jovial, respectful manner. Sexual tension, but the focus is on the couple's burgeoning emotional attachment, not what would happen if they got naked.
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Lots of swearing, usually involving "f--k" -- as in "for f--k's sake" and "f--king brilliant."
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Products & Purchases
Very little, though the street musician sings in front of a CD store with the name fully displayed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some smoking in pubs; lots of drinking in social situations.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Once is an endearing indie romance. Although there's a fair amount of swearing -- particularly "f--k" -- hardly anything else would raise a flag for teens and up. In fact, it's one of the few love stories that doesn't require its leads to get naked or fall in bed together. A thief does try to make off with the musician's street earnings, and there's some bitter talk of past breakups, plenty of beer drinking, and flirtation between a married woman and a single man (even though both know she's still married). But the positive messages about love and emotional connection outweigh any iffiness.
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Based on 5 parent reviews
Wrong supportive message
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Single Man and Married Women..Not Okay.
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What's the Story?
Glen Hansard, frontman for beloved Irish indie-rock band The Frames, stars as an unnamed musician who sings on the streets of Dublin in ONCE. During the day, he plays Van Morrison songs, but at night, he sings his own compositions -- sad, affecting tunes -- with a passion that has no relationship to audience size. One day he meets a young woman (Marketa Irglova) who turns out to be an accomplished, impoverished Czech immigrant who plays the piano beautifully but sells flowers and cleans houses to make ends meet. They're soul mates, and theirs is a story of the transformative power of love and music.
Is It Any Good?
John Carney's musical is one of those gems that so rarely graces the big screen these days: a truly good movie. That Carney, who once was a member of The Frames himself, could fashion such a moving, romantic film without resorting to the ho-hum boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl formula is a testament to his talent as both a writer and a director. Deftly and lightly, he lets emotions build up quietly for maximum impact. The relationship between the two leads develops as if in real life: unhurriedly but with great force.
Once's songs aid the storytelling -- but, unlike most musicals, they pour out naturally, as you'd expect when two accomplished musicians unite. In "Falling Slowly," a haunting melody, the pair sings in harmony: "I don't know you/But I want you/All the more for that." In fact, the movie itself plays like a great song; you could listen to it over and over and rediscover something new each time.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what makes Once so different from typical Hollywood romances. How does the main couple connect without having sex? Do other movies rely too much on establishing relationships primarily through getting physical?
How do most movies define "love"? Is that realistic?
Families can also discuss the fact that movies often portray the pursuit of dreams. Do these dreams seem attainable? If not, how do you keep the faith?
How do the characters in Once demonstrate communication? Why is this an important character strength?
- In theaters: May 16, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2007
- Cast: Glen Hansard, Hugh Walsh, Marketa Irglova
- Director: John Carney
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Musical
- Character Strengths: Communication
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language.
- Last updated: March 17, 2023
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