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Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Once Movie Poster Image
Sweet, romantic musical hits all the right notes.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 85 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 18 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 i... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytrebleclefjordan April 9, 2008

wonderful movie

This is a fantastic movie for everyone, and kids should definitely be allowed to see it. Trust me parents, they've heard this language already and it... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bysummersunshine_418 April 9, 2008

A really beautiful film.

I don't even know where to begin. This movie was extremely touching and so...real. The music is incredible and really heartfelt, and it would be a shame if... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Our editors recommend

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