(On DVD, June 2018) There is a lot that I shouldn’t like about Once. I’m usually allergic to the kind of low-tech handheld naturalistic aesthetics of the film; I’m not that fond of the kind of music that it played in the film from beginning to end, and I like my endings upbeat rather than melancholic. But Once is much more than the sum of its components, and the overall film does feel like a quiet triumph of film make subservient to music. I should not have been surprised—Writer/director John Carney also has Begin Again and Sing Street on his resume, and any of those would be a reputation-making film. It’s no surprise to see him capture more or less that same contagious sense of satisfaction at seen music portrayed so well on film. Two singers, Glen Hansard and the incredibly likable Markéta Irglová, play the lead roles with considerable talent—they’re not incredibly polished actors, but they certainly make an impact. The film reaches an apex of sort (also shared with other films in the Carney oeuvre) when everything comes together for a sustained high of pure music-making, jamming through the night and listening to the recording as the sun comes up. It’s kind of magical in its own way, reaching even grouchy viewers such as myself. The lead single track, “Falling Slowly”, deservedly won an Oscar. Much of the story is strictly routine—albeit finely observed and taking place in less-than-advantaged settings. The story leads to the ending most appropriate for it, which is not necessarily synonymous with complete happiness. So it goes; Once’s most joyous moments are elsewhere.