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.