Who's in It:
Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
The Basics: Guy meets Girl (that's actually how they're billed in the credits, too), and they discover that they like singing together. So they do. They kinda-sorta fall for each other, too, but other life stuff is in the way. Still, though, they really like playing music together. So it's a musical, a really nice one. But not in that way where you think, Wouldn't it be awesome if everyone just sang and danced in the streets? More like, I'm already dancing and singing in the street just because that's what I do every day. Oh, look, a camera is following me while I do it.
What's the Deal? A couple years ago, I saw this brain-meltingly stupid movie called Undiscovered about a musician guy who was supposed to be so talented that, according to co-star Ashlee Simpson, he was a cross between Elvis Costello and Jeff Buckley. Like, after hearing him you might as well swallow poison because there'd be nothing else left to live for. It turned out that the guy was just an eensy bit less amazing than that and, in fact, Simpson's own real-life songs sounded much better. What I'm getting at here is that no one in this movie hammers you in the face with how the lead guy's songs are going to redefine your entire relationship with music as you know it. They just let his nice, sweet, low-key songs win you over. In fact, that's how the whole movie is sweet and scruffy and unassuming.
The Benefits of Having Press Notes in Front of You While You Watch It: The Guy is played by Hansard, who's already a well-known singer-songwriter in Ireland (where this movie is set) and leader of a band called the Frames who've put out a lot of records there. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Irglová is a musician from Prague who met Hansard a couple years ago and started playing music with him. They put out a record together last year called The Swell Season. That musical chemistry also plays out nicely onscreen, because you believe they're really into each other.
Small Is Beautiful: This is a perfect summer movie for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that you can pretend you're in a place where it's cold enough (Dublin) that people get to wear nice scarves all the time. But mostly it's because summer is when you get an onslaught of big, long, loud fireworks displays in the multiplex, almost exclusively. And while I like that stuff just fine, it's also nice to be able to go from one of those into a small, quiet movie that charms you on its own laid-back terms.
Obsessed With That Other Irish Musical The Commitments? Then You'll Really Want to See This One: Hansard, then 20, was in that movie, too, as one of the band members. I kind of always wondered why I never heard of any of the people in that movie again. At least now I know where one of them went off to.