The Swell Season (2012)

Directed by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins & Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Once is one of my favorite films of all time and Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have made some of my favorite music these last few years together. Theirs is a great story, though now knowing where that story is may damper the cheeriness and soaring romance that launched these two to instant stardom and an Oscar win. This documentary about their time on the road after their famous win started out somewhat uninteresting as it explored a basic “where are you coming from, what got you into music, isn’t it great to be instant stars”, but slowly evolved into an emotional expose of the slow failure of a relationship that was the backbone and fairy tale of a fictional love story that gripped many, myself included.

Marketa and Glen still remain friends, but the glimmer of their relationship has worn off and become just another testament to the fact that sometimes great things don’t last. But what they have already accomplished together is something of “lightning in a bottle” if you will. It didn’t last and perhaps it was never meant to last. But for that short time that they became one in their music was incredible and magical. It almost seems ironic that in one scene, in which Glen is writing “The Rain” from their Strict Joy album, Glen mentions the song as being prophetic, a song about a breakup written by a man in a happy relationship (at the time). And so it happens that over time things slowly come to an end romantically between the two. It is a sad reality in what was otherwise a magical journey by an Irish busker and a Czech girl who, wise beyond her years perhaps, proclaimed “Fair play to those who dare to dream.”

The documentary may be bogged down by what seems to be rock-documentary protocol: how did you get started?, isn’t fame rough and taxing and such a strange departure from what life once was? And the film never does seem to have any higher ambition or sense of direction until the deterioration of Glen and Marketa’s relationship happens right in front of the camera, but something must be said for being able to capture that in the tender way in which it was.

**1/2 – Average

1 Comment

  1. I really liked this film, even when it got uncomfortable as their relationship fell apart. The black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous, and it was interesting to see behind the scenes. Some of the performances are also excellent. I'm glad you were able to check it out!


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