For my Faith, Film & Spiritual Formation of Young Adults class we have to watch 15 movies this semester and write about them. It's a tough assignment, but somebody's got to do it! =) We watch 11 assigned films and then we're supposed to pick 4 others to watch and review. I watched the movie "Once" the other day and decided to use it as one of my 4 extras, so here's a bit about what I thought of the film.
The film portrays a male and a female musician in Dublin, Ireland who meet and build a friendship through playing music together. The man has recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend, and the woman has left her husband in the Czech Republic and
moved to Ireland with her 2-year-old daughter. There is sexual tension as the two work together and connect with each other through music while trying to decide whether to return to their exes or get together.
Many aspects of the young adult experience are portrayed, such as: can a man and a woman be “just friends”? Where does loyalty lie in relationships? How long should one try to make a relationship work? What is more important: connecting with someone through a shared interest/passion, or through commitment and love? Where is the line between friendship and love?
In many ways, although this film has a definite plot, it's basically a film made to showcase a certain set of songs. It's almost an extended music video with a plot that draw the songs loosely together. I liked the music, and the way that the music told the story without being a “musical.” The music told the story more with emotions than with words.
I liked that in this story, the two musicians decided to stay loyal to their partners and went back to the ones they had committed to rather than throwing out the past and trying to start something new. Although in the film you're not sure if that was the right choice because in some ways you want them to get together, it's encouraging to see a film that doesn't encourage adultery/promiscuity--and it's fairly common in real life (at least in my experience) to not be sure if one made the right decision or not.
Even though I did like that they went back to their previous relationships, I also didn't like this, because their previous partners didn't seem as good for them as they would have been for each other. But especially for the sake of the child this seemed like the best choice. It was a choice, perhaps, between continuing to be “emerging adults” (the stage we're focusing on in my class, roughly ages 18-30) and moving into the stage of actual adulthood. They were unconsciously asking questions like: do we make the choice that feels right but is more transient and self-serving, or do we make the more mature decision and stick to our commitments and do what's right for the child? This is something I'm learning to deal with, since I have a one-year-old, and I have to learn to make good choices about what is best for him, so I think I struggled with whether this was the right choice for the characters because I'm struggling with these kinds of choices (not to cheat on my husband, but how to put my family first while still doing what's right for me) on a daily basis.
For the class we're supposed to talk about some "holy moments" in the film, and there were several in this film. The characters were able to provide each other holy moments for the absolution and healing that needed to happen in their lives before they were ready to reconnect with their former partners. They both needed to be seen as beautiful people on their own before they could go back into a relationship where they tried to receive affirmation of themselves through their partner. They were able to give this affirmation to each other, encouraging one another's art, loving each other without a need to take that to any sexual level, and listening to one another's music for the truths it said about the hurts they'd received and the places where they truly wanted to be. They were able to do what was right for one another, to truly hear each other's deep needs, and to make choices that spoke to those deep needs rather than to the transient felt-needs that each of them may have liked to have fulfilled instead. They gave this gift to one another, which was a more important gift than a romantic relationship with one another would have been.