Song of the Day #36: ‘If You Want Me’ – Marketa Irglova

OK, so I’m breaking the rules again with this pick, or bending them anyway.

Marketa Irglova is listening to a recording in this clip from Once, but it’s a recording of her own music and she does sing along to the tape, so I think it counts.

I had plenty of Once scenes to choose from — the whole movie is made up of scenes that fit my criteria for this week’s theme — but I really had no other choice. For me, this is far and away the best scene in the movie.

Now people who haven’t seen the film (and maybe some who have) will probably watch this and say “It’s a woman walking from a convenience store to an apartment building while listening to a walkman… I could see that downtown any day of the week.” And they’re right. It’s not a triumph of cinematography — yes, it’s mostly one long take but it’s an easy one. It’s not a triumph of acting — no offense to Ms. Irglova, who is quite good in the film. But somehow, it is a triumph.

A lot of it has to do with the song, of course. Play the same scene with an Air Supply tune on the soundtrack and it’s a whole different experience. This song is a sultry, somber beauty and it perfectly complements the dark chilliness of Irglova’s sidewalk stroll. (Call the alliteration police!)

Mostly, though, I’m thrilled by the intimacy of this scene, the peek into a private moment of a woman who is beginning to let herself blossom creatively. She heads down to the corner store to buy some batteries so she can hear a song she has co-written, and on the way back she’s so lost in the music that her feet may as well be three feet off the ground.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #36: ‘If You Want Me’ – Marketa Irglova

  1. Amy says:

    Yes, yes, and yes again. Many scenes in this, my favorite film (by a mile) of last year, could be contenders for my “favorite,” but it was while watching this scene that I consciously thought in the theater at the moment I was watching it, that Once was extraordinary, in every sense of that word. I think Clay captures it exactly, when he says that this is the moment when “the girl” lets herself begin to blossom creatively. And what I love about the cinematography is how perfectly it echoes her mindset at this moment in the film. She’s lost in the song, she’s swept up in this new creative partnership, and the camera is an extension of that emotion. This was the “wow” moment that cemented Once as a truly special film for me, so thank you for including it.

  2. Clay says:

    It occurs to me that the clips I chose from this film and Moulin Rouge are, for me, those films’ “jockey moments” (a concept I brought up in the Before Sunrise write-up). These are the moments when those films become great before my eyes.

  3. Amy says:

    Thank you for clarifying. I’m confusing my “one-wow” songs with the “jockey moment” in films 😉 That is exactly what I felt about Once. And possibly Moulin Rouge as well, though I think it may have happened during the opening number in that case.

  4. Dana says:

    great song. Great movie. Still waiting for a musical.

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