It's somewhat surprising that I enjoyed this movie, given that I really wasn't that into the music, and it is, after all, a musical. But I really have to be in the right mood to appreciate heartfelt singer/songwriter type stuff, and the tracks in this film were a bit too Damien Rice for me. Still, though, I did think this was a worthwhile movie, at very least because it was an interesting take on the genre. Perhaps some of my appreciation also came from the fact that it's set in Dublin, and many of the scenes happen literally around the corner from the hotel I was staying in, so it was nice to be on those streets again. But anyhow, it's a curiously difficult film to describe. It's sort of a musical, and the two main characters sort of fall in love, and it's sort of a happy ending... this isn't to say it's waffling, it's just sort of understated.
In a way, it's kind of about how sometimes two people can be kind of perfect for each other and still not end up together, but that's ok. Even if, perhaps, they would be happier together. The final scene, of the female half of the ill-fated couple sitting at the piano given to her by the male half and gazing out the window as her husband, whom she maybe loves, but not as much as she maybe loves this other guy, plays with their child in the dingy apartment that she shares with her mother, is not so much tragic as it is wistful, yet resigned. Or perhaps better to say, accepting of the current state of things, and grateful for the beautiful moments of the past.
The musical aspect is interesting. The film has been described as a musical for people who hate musicals. I suppose this is because it doesn't have that obnoxious musical quality of everyone suddenly bursting into song and dance numbers in ways that require a strenuous suspension of disbelief. The music is pretty well integrated here - I mean, it's about two musicians for goddsakes. Still, and maybe this is because I just wasn't that into the songs, I didn't feel that it really contributed to the development of the story. I suppose the idea is that these two people express their feelings for each other through the music, but really, it comes across more through the lovesick stares they cast at each other. Come to think of it, I guess that's part of the point - that these characters are so guarded and careful in conversation, but then they really let loose and get all earnest and angsty when making music. But the thing is, I liked them more when they kept all that emotional turmoil to themselves. Their seething inner lives, as conveyed by sounds that occasionally verged on caterwauling, were kind of off-putting. The disjunction between the two was a bit too jarring for me, I suppose.
The character development is sparse, and there are some rather odd scenes that ultimately don't really fit - the opening, for instance, where the protagonist is robbed, chases the guy down, gets his stuff back, and ends up giving the thief some change. I mean, its a cute scene I suppose, but...
Yeah, so in the end, I guess I wasn't as wild about this movie as I originally thought. Hmmm. Worth seeing for it's experimentation with the genre of the musical, but if you really want to enjoy it, get yourself in the proper mindset for some heartfelt, wringing-every-drop-of-emotion-out-of-vocal-chords-that-aren't-fully-suited-for-the-job type of music.