Today was a pseudo-hooky day from work, and to ensure I shut off the e-mail and cell phone once I was truly done, I took my happy ass to the cinema.

A friend had been streaming the “Once” soundtrack over iTunes at work, and spoke highly of both it and the movie itself. I heard a couple of songs and bought the soundtrack immediately, and I didn’t even read a review of the movie — the music alone compelled me to find out where it was playing because I was spellbound.

Had I read the reviews, I would have known that the two lead characters are never actually named. Even in IMDB, it’s “the guy” and “the girl.” I was wondering throughout the movie what their names were, but at some point I realized the lead character was the music, and maybe you could even list the lyrics as the secondary character.

And they don’t need names. They are everyman and everywoman. I was sitting there assigning my own names to the characters, from my own life. When I’m creating my own fiction, I am very much insistent on the names that mean something to me. The antagonist in my stories is named after the most obnoxious person I’ve ever known. The heroine is one of my alter egos. The heroes are named not necessarily after the people who inspired the characters, but instead names they may recognize or appreciate from things that remind me of them. Names are crucial to the writer, but when the viewer can assign them, well damn, all the better.

The neat thing is that the “guy” and the “girl” are professional musicians in real life. And these days, I can forgive any perceived flaws on film if I want to run out and buy the soundtrack. But it didn’t hurt the film at all. And maybe that’s the way it should be from now on — let people who already have a job do the acting in movies, as these cokehead starlets are riding their own ego trips too hard to be able to handle the pressure. The guy is Glen Hansard, who fronts a band called The Frames in real life. And the girl is Marketa Irglova, who did an album with Glen last year and who really had some serious on-screen chemistry with him as they literally (OK, and figuratively) made music together.

Toward the beginning, when the guy and the girl were in the music store, he playing guitar and she learning the notes to his song “Falling Slowly,” I just flat-out started sobbing. I mean, wow. Just wow.

“Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won.”

— Glen Hansard, “Falling Slowly

The thing is, I’ve probably listened to the soundtrack a thousand times, but seeing it in context, letting it push and pull the characters, brought it to life for me. Each song is more haunting than the next, mostly because I identified with something in it. Even “Gold,” which wasn’t my favorite lyrically, starts off with this fucking amazing guitar riff, and I got chills when I heard it in surround sound.

But I’m dancing around the storyline. Because I don’t know how to put it into words. I loved and hated the ending equally. The writer in me absolutely fell in love with it, because you knew that there were so many possibilities — so many ways the story beyond the closing credits could end. But the woman in me with way too many thoughts swirling around in her head was blowing an absolute gasket, wondering whether all that magic would manifest in any greater way.

I’m choosing to look at it as a happy ending. I’m hoping that what’s meant to be (in my head) will be. And yeah, I was still sobbing through the credits and even after the lights came on.

Where are you my angel now, don’t you see me crying
And I know that you can’t do it all, but you can’t say I’m not trying
I’m on my knees in front of him, but he doesn’t seem to see me
But all his troubles on his mind, he’s looking right through me
And I’m letting myself down in satisfying you
And I wish that you could see I have my troubles, too.”

— Marketa Irglova, “The Hill”

Anyway, the one thing I walked away from the movie wanting to do was write. Even if I can’t produce a fantastic story like that because I just can’t write the soundtrack that’s in my head because I have no freaking idea how to record it (i.e., can’t read or write music. Or, for that matter, lyrics), I just want to do something, anything creative. Something I love. Something I can’t live without. And if there’s anyone out there with a similar passion, just like “the guy,” all the better.

And I completely and totally have a crush on Glen Hansard now. I know, I know, probably a firecrotch and all. 😉 But dear God, that’s a man who can ignite every nerve in my body with the mere sound of his voice. To hear him imploring, “If you’ve got something to say to me, you’d better say it to me now.” *swoon* I can forgive a lot of flaws in any man if he can write, can speak proper English and can make me gush in my gutchies with an amazing tone. (Hmm, maybe that’ll be my next dating-service ad headline!)

I had to go to the art house cinema (supposedly) to see this thing. I don’t know how long it’s been out or whether it’s going into mass release or it was already in it. Whatever. Just, go see it. I would have seen it again had I not been forced to run out and feed the damn parking meter. 🙂 But there’s always another day, and yes, there’s always the soundtrack (which is only $7.99 in the iTunes Music Store) to occupy me in the meantime until I can buy the DVD!

One Lonely Response to Spellbound

  1. Caterwauling :

    […] You know that movie that reduced me to tears? So I had to yell at the friend who recommended it to me. Because, seriously. I was supposed to go out afterward and I couldn’t because I was one hot, heaving puffy mess. And goddamn it, it made me think. Hard. […]