VSL RESEND // The movie musical for the rest of us

If your ideal movie musical features forthright, heart-on-their-sleeve types belting operatic pop about how the hills are alive and the corn’s as high as an elephant’s eye, we won’t stop you from lining up early for High School Musical 3. But if you believe that real people have a harder time expressing their emotions, then you’ll find Once (out on DVD 12/18), a rousing little anti-musical that knows the difference between sweet and treacly, is more your style.

In Ireland, a street busker (played by Glen Hansard of the indie band the Frames) and a flower girl (singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová) bond over his extraordinary music. As the genre dictates, the two nameless characters sing, but only in natural settings — a recording studio; a musical-instrument store — where music might logically be heard. And their songs, a set of Cat Stevens–meets–Coldplay ballads written by Hansard and Irglová, are so stirring they’ll break your heart before the story of their would-be romance has a chance to do the same.

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