Monday, August 20, 2007

Once, Making Music

I went with a friend to see the Irish indie film, Once, at the newly restored Carolina Theater in Durham. How refreshing to see a not-so-slick film just like a slice of someone’s life (much as I can enjoy some of the slick ones!). I’d heard an NPR review a while back which kept my attention and had me humming along to the actors’ laughter, even before I heard any of the songs. Here’s my review: we missed the beginning scenes, but what a beautiful theater the Carolina is, in its restored grandeur (complete with new toilet seats, as the signs point out)! The sound of this young woman’s voice, the real commitment and momentum energy as she walks down the busy Dublin streets selling single red roses, the way she overrode her frustration of dead or no batteries when she walked to a nearby market late to continue listening and lyricking, putting the words to music he had asked her help with - she walked, bed-clothed, singing to herself with earphones in, completely absorbed – back to the bedroom where she slept with her young daughter; her wistfulness and also sudden smiles, optimism, encouragement, then the song she wrote with her piano, a song she had written to her husband which he didn’t understand then, which ached, still strong, with her desire for her strength to be seen, waited for, patiently, as she knew she must nurture within her. A romantic view, only my own? Maybe. If you see the film, you’ll know your own view. He walked purposefully, guitar strapped to his back, those sort of bulging eyes sweetly innocent, even when nodding at his bitterness over disappointed love. His voice rises, strong, over the sound of his guitar strings, that strumming not letting up, easy, then like steady cavalry. I thought at first I might struggle to hear, to understand with the recorded sound and accents, but it wasn’t difficult then, after a few scenes. There is low light, dim rooms, some. There are priceless moments, such as when our young hero is playing his newly recorded songs on a small cassette player for his father, a Hoover-sucker-repairer. His father’s face and communication with him are a memorable delight. The long recording time, the studio man who begins to warm to their determination, their sound, then the beach moments, the playfulness in early light. Those tough choices of should-I-stay-or-should-I-go, and that thrill of a gift of love which is passed from one to another in different ways: his father’s gift to him, to cross to London and make a go of music; his buying her a piano, having it delivered to her apartment even as he is on his way, air-bound. Wistfulness is real, and so is moving on, in supportive ways which honor all. Love never dies, only changes form.

We left the theater into a cooler evening than many of late, and those fountains were running, water running as if it had never stopped.


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