Once

  • Directors: John Carney
  • Producers: Martina Niland
  • Writers: John Carney
  • Genres: Drama, Music, Romance
  • Actors: Glen Hansard

An unnamed, thirty-something Dublin busker (listed in the credits as “Guy,” played by Glen Hansard) sings and plays guitar on Grafton Street, a Dublin shopping district. He struggles with the trials of performing on the street, including chasing after a heroin addict (Darren Healy) who attempts to steal his earnings. Lured by his music, an unnamed young Czech immigrant flower seller (listed in the credits as “Girl,” played by Markéta Irglová) approaches him and, despite his annoyance, persists in questioning him about his songs. Delighted to learn that he also repairs vacuum cleaners in his father’s shop, she insists that he fix her broken vacuum.

The next day she brings her Hoover by and parlays it into lunch together, whereupon she piques his interest by telling him that she is a musician, too. He asks to hear her play, so they visit a music store where she regularly plays piano. After teaching her one of his songs (“Falling Slowly”), which she quickly learns to play, they sing and play the song together, kindling a musical and potentially romantic connection. He invites her and her ailing vacuum back to his father’s shop, and on the bus home musically answers her question as to what his songs are about: a long-time girlfriend who cheated on him, then left (“Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy”).

Still, he is smitten. After the all-night session wraps up successfully, they walk home. Before they part ways, the Girl reveals that she spoke to her husband and he is coming to live with her in Dublin. The Guy asks her to spend his last night in Dublin with him; she says that it would only result in “hanky-panky,” which is a “bad idea”, but after the Guy’s pestering she ultimately agrees to come over. In the end, she stands him up and he cannot find her to say goodbye before his flight. He plays the demo for his father, who, moved and impressed, gives him money to help him get settled in London. Before leaving for the airport, the Guy buys the Girl a piano and makes arrangements for its delivery, then calls his ex-girlfriend, who is happy about his imminent arrival. The Girl’s husband (Senan Haugh) moves to Dublin and they reunite. But the final shots convey how the Girl and the Guy were deeply affected by their short time together.

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