The Irish romance ONCE may be a musical, but it is miles away from the traditional Hollywood idea of people bursting into song. Glen Hansard (frontman for indie rock band the Frames) plays the guy, a street musician who is playing for change when he meets the girl (Marketa Irglova), an immigrant from the Czech Republic. The pair immediately bond over their shared love of music (he is a guitarist, and she plays the piano), and the film chronicles their tentative relationship. Both are weighed down by plenty of baggage: his songs are fueled by a painful breakup, and she is a young mother who left her husband behind in her native country. Like the independent favourite BEFORE SUNRISE, ONCE is a simple, sweet drama that doesn't rely on an elaborate plot. With its use of digital video and handheld cameras, ONCE matches its spare visual style to its intimate mood. Each moment feels stolen from real life, and the story is at once familiar and fresh. Driven more by music than by dialogue, ONCE features a stirring soundtrack of heartfelt indie rock sung by Hansard and Irglova. Before his foray into film, director John Carney (ON THE EDGE) played bass in the Frames, and his passion for music is clear in this modern musical that hits every note perfectly.