Few movies have the courage to follow real characters into their lives. There are always the dark and boring places that really have little narrative value, but help explain a person’s life all the same.
Once follows two individuals through a week in Dublin. They meet by chance, as a young lady observes a streetside busker pour his heart out through a guitar, and approaches him. The camera draws us in as his music drew her. She asks him why he only plays original music at night. They make small talk that isn’t small. There isn’t a romantic attraction, just curiosity.
Their paths cross again, and they find their musical abilities overlap, and in fact are complementary. She plays piano, and sings, but keeps her own songs to herself. In a scene of stunningly simple camerawork, the two form an indelible bond of friendship over a song he has written. Carney focuses on the interaction between the musicians and not on either one of them individually.
Maybe they each want something more. Maybe there is love there, waiting to be found. But maybe this just isn’t the right time for either one of them. Their new friendship opens up old wounds for both, but new possibilities as well.