Once Movie Poster Image




Sweet, romantic musical hits all the right notes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: December 17, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


No overt violence, but some potentially upsetting scenes related to poverty -- families shoehorned into very small apartments, for instance.


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.


Lots of swearing, usually involving "f--k" -- as in "for f--k's sake" and "f--king brilliant."


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.

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.

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. 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 ONCE 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.

The movie'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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 16, 2007
DVD release date:December 18, 2007
Cast:Glen Hansard, Hugh Walsh, Marketa Irglova
Director:John Carney
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Character strengths:Communication
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language.

This review of Once was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bykra June 29, 2009

Way too much cussing, otherwise great!

I really, really liked this movie. The language was an extreme disappointment, F this, F that. But, really, that's all there was that was objectionable in the movie for me. There's a little drinking and such, but not over the top or anything. There's one guy who's strung out on heroin or something, but you don't see him doing it and they certainly don't make it look glamorous. Overall, the movie I think had a positive message about the sanctity of friendship and marriage. And some great music as well! I'm not even in to the style of music in the movie and I'm planning on buying the soundtrack. I don't think kids should see it with all the cussing (do kids really need to experience that?), but if you're able to get past a million and one F-bombs, this is a pretty solid movie. I suspect my wife and I will buy it.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byatleast April 9, 2008
Adult Written bybarb42 April 9, 2008

A Classic--Don't miss it!

This was a lovely experience, and so suitable! Another reviewer said the Ratings Board members should suffer eternal punishment for giving this film an "R" rating. I agree. This film is incredibly suitable, as well as being OUTSTANDING. The ONLY reason it's rated "R" is the use of the F word, usually as an adjective, i.e. "That's F-ing fantastic!" I was worried about taking my 12 yr old to an R movie--no need! I wasn't embarassed, not once--except when I bought the tickets!


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