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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Movie Review - The Swell Season

The Swell Season (2011)
Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Directed by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins, and Carlo Mirabella-Davis

I'm a huge fan of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová's musical group The Swell Season and I'm an even bigger fan of their Oscar-winning movie (and Tony-winning Broadway musical) Once.  Because of my fandom, I longed for this documentary chronicling their now-defunct real-life romance to be charming and heartbreaking.  Instead, I found The Swell Season to be one of the most tedious pieces of cinema I've sat through this year...and it hurts me terribly to admit that to myself.

While it wasn't exactly the whirlwind romance I thought it was -- Hansard actually knew Irglová for quite a bit prior to them filming Once although this tidbit of information (and the creation of Once itself) isn't explored in the slightest -- the two found always found themselves spiritually connected to each other through their music.  As Irglová got older and the two spent more time together, the musical connection became a more romantic one, really coming to its peak around the time immediately after their Oscar win.  Hansard, who had toiled for years while touring with his band The Frames, was finding his newfound success a joy, but Irglová struggled greatly being thrust into the spotlight.  Eventually, the tables almost turn with Hansard questioning whether success is all it's cracked up to be, and the two find themselves more at odds with one another rather than really feeling a romantic connection.

The problem is the whole thing is just boring and lacks anything the least bit revelatory.  That paragraph I wrote above just about put me to sleep writing it and this movie tested my patience quite a bit.  There's some nice music, but having seen the duo live, all it did was make me long for them to tour the Philly area again.  A concert wasn't what I was looking for in this film (even though it does showcase Hansard's brilliant soulful grit).  I wanted insight into their relationship and I didn't really get it.  In the end, maybe that's the point, though.  The two struggled with a public image that was thrust upon them when their little indie film found unexpected success and the guarded nature of this project may be fitting.  There are certainly some beautiful moments (mostly coming from sit-down interviews with Hansard's mother and father which are quite touching), but overall, The Swell Season was a big letdown never really building to anything worthy of actually being filmed.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

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