Once is the Academy Award 2008 Best Foreign Picture.
The film's featured song, Falling Slowly, won an Oscar, too. (It can drive you crazy, I'm telling you, once it gets in your head).
The film is a vehicle for Glen Hansard's music, and a good one, too. It also reminded me that we haven't talked much about cheating on this blog.
Warning: May contain spoilers.
A melodious, poetic, tragic rocker works a busy street corner for change in the city of Dublin. He sings the songs of other artists, thinking: No one will toss coins into my guitar case if I sing my own songs.
A fresh and optimistic female hears him one night. She boosts his confidence. She is also a musician, his perfect complement, a sensitive pianist with a good voice.
This is an endearing love affair, what Dorothy Fields would have called A Fine Romance* (with no kisses).
She's married, but separated, living with her mother. He's getting over a girl who cheated on him. His woman has gone off to London, perhaps a response to his pain, and he lives with his pop.
His response to his ex's cheating is very realistic, the kind of thing we see in therapy quite often.
We'll use the male gender for the sake of convenience.
I see four basic types of guy:
The guy who is so angry that he pounds his pillow or the wall (breaks his hand) or breaks bottles. He can't sleep, stays up all night writing songs and poems, watching movies or drinking. He'll have sexual problems if he doesn't work this out.
There's the guy who has grown used to this, losing his women, and expects as much. Some men are convinced that they're losers in relationships, having lost so often, and become depressed and stay this way. They seem "depressive" and often will take a year or two before beginning to date again. Maybe three or four. It gets annoying being hurt again and again.
There's the guy who gets back in the saddle and hits on every woman he can find. This guy may identify with the aggressor, hurt back before he'll commit to a relationship.
There's the guy who doesn't grieve, doesn't talk about it, just moves on.
There are other variations, whole other categories. It doesn't matter.
I like them all. But the guy I like the most has the guts to say to the woman who spurned him, Why don't we work on this? Be honest with me. Let's talk about this and let's make our relationship work. I can change, you can change.
Will she say Yes, sure, we can work on it? Reverse the genders, change the sexes. Will he say Yes. Why not? We can get through this? So many things to consider when we talk about infidelity. But honesty is the variable that makes the biggest difference.
How much does he or she want to know? How much can the cheater tell him and not regret it? This is a fine art, really, this type of honesty. Sometimes it's really enough to say, I did that. I cheated on you. And that's all you get to know. Sometimes even that doesn't have to be said, it can be communicated with a certain look, a shrug.
Then we can get to real couples work, begin to find out what is wrong. It's something that begins with something in her or something in him, something that needs discovery, light. There's something in there that allows that to happen, a new relationship, a triangle, some intimacy fear or narcissistic injury. It's not the femme fatale. It's not her lover's Gucci suit.
A person walks into a relationship with issues. We all have them. Most of us haven't any idea what in the world they are.
*In case you don't know the song, here's the first verse:
A fine romance, with no kisses!
A fine romance, my friend, this is!
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes,
But you're as cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes.
A fine romance! You won't nestle!
A fine romance! You won't wrestle!
I might as well play bridge with my old maid aunts!
I haven't got a chance.
This is a fine romance.