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April 9, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Review – The Swell Season

Once (2006) was a low budget film shot in a few weeks on the streets of Dublin. It starred Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech seventeen-year-old Markéta Irglová, who captivated the world with the heartfelt honesty of their songs and dreamlike off screen romance. The Swell Season tracks the world tour following their success, the striking black and white cinematography telling a carefully crafted story which shies away from the search for truth typical of most documentaries.

Darkly humorous, the film captures a charming awkwardness: Markéta sneezes partway through singing a line; the crew swears constantly in strong Irish accents; absurd personalities are unflinchingly shown. These fragmented scenes are held together by the raw, earnest collaboration of the two musicians whose songs are both emotive and melancholy. Glen and Markéta are so enchanting, shown sharing a microphone or running naked into the sea, that at first it’s hard to swallow the strain and anxiety which begins to flourish backstage.

As his mother obsesses over their newfound fame and his father wretchedly drinks himself to death, Glen has his own demons to face. Meanwhile Markéta, only 19 at the time, struggles to reconcile her values with the constant attention from her admirers. One tattoos Markéta’s Oscar speech onto his arm, while a teenage couple endearingly admits to roleplaying as the duo. The fans not only put pressure on Glen and Markéta as singers, but as the dream relationship with the fairy-tale ending they never received from Once. In response, the film puts a perfectly fitting twist on the eternal question: “will they end up together at the end?”

The Swell Season is part of The World Cinema Showcase. See it at Paramount on Tuesday 10th 6.15pm or Wednesday 11th 2.15pm.

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