Monday night The Woman and I went to the movies with a couple of friends. Crazy. I mean, we go maybe once every year or year and a half. There should be some sort of celebration, huge laudatory speeches, or human sacrifices for such an event. Maybe I’m just overreacting, but we just don’t get around to the theatrical experience that frequently.

But what can I say, someone recommended a movie that neither of us had any clue about, so it seemed appropriate to blow such an infrequent occasion on it. Afterall, the move was called Once – how appropriate is that?

I have to say, I had my doubts when I read the summary outside of the theater (our local art house actually posts synopsises… synopsi… summaries of the current indie flicks showing for all of us not in the know). I was beginning to think I got myself into a total chick flick with the promising You Kill Me just a couple doors down the hall. But to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

Call this a romantic musical, or whatever people might like to label it, would not do it justice. The film is sweet and funny in a very realistic sense. The music is not thrown about, but absolutely essential to the storyline. And if Glan Hansard (playing “the guy”) and Markéta Irglová (playing “the girl”) were not so freakin’ talented, it definitely wouldn’t work. But hearing the passion of their songs really made me believe in them as musicians trying to make it – and the way director John Carney mixed in scenes of songwriting and singing with occasional musical montages really showcased the soundtrack. I downloaded the album it was based on as soon as I got home (legally – thank you eMusic).

As for the potential romance – I can’t really say anything without ruining the story. But I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a movie play with my emotions quite so much and quite so successfully. In a way, I was never completely sure how I wanted it to end or what would be the best way for it to end. And that’s probably what made it feel so realistic. Once is as imperfect and awkward as it sweet and romantic – just like a real relationship.

I have to admit that this isn’t a movie for everyone – it has an odd pace and low production quality that can easily be a turnoff. But if you really love that feeling from watching some amazing unknown talent at a local coffee shop, you can’t go wrong with Once.