Hairspray & Once

Yay! My first two press screenings. Two musicals, but they couldn't possible have been more different. Whereas everything in Hairspray is oversized, from the protagonist to the hair through the feelings and the stars, Once is one of the smallest, most understated and most quietly charming films I've ever seen.

I liked Hairspray more than I thought I would. It's infectious, the way a musical should be, and even if I was a little disturbed because it seemed to equate discrimination against fat people to racism, I ended up rather liking it. It's mainly because it feels so refreshing to see people really dance instead of shots of moving body parts edited together as fast as possible, but also because of the performances. I wasn't really impressed with John Travolta, but I admire him for taking the role straight, without apologizing for it through caricature, James Marsden was a true surprise here (what a voice!) and I'm sure we'll hear more from Elijah Kelley.

But Once, well, that's an entirely different ballgame. I don't want to say too much, actually, because I think it's best seen without any expectations or prior knowledge. I'm grateful to Sam from filmspotting because he was the one reviewer not agreeing with the near universal adulation of this film. It lowered my expectations enough that I could still be surprised by how wonderful it is.

I'm very happy that Glen Hansard, of the Frames, plays the main part, and not Cillian Murphy as was apparently planned at first. Together with the hand-held camera and the naturalistic style, the fact that it's two unknown faces playing the unnamed Guy and Girl means there's a very everyday quality to the film. Realism is the last thing you expect in a musical, but the music is totally organic here.

Ok, I'll stop now. Go see it! I mean, seeing Hairspray, you'll be entertained, but it doesn't really stick in any way, not the music or the details. Once, on the other hand, is still playing in my head.

No comments: