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Once (2006)—IrelandOnce (2006)—Ireland

This low budget ($200,000) film has won uniformly rave reviews, not to mention the 2007 audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The plot is about as simple as plot can get. An aspiring street musician whose girlfriend left him for London lives above his father's vacuum cleaner repair shop. A younger girl who has moved to Dublin from the Czech Republic after her husband left her hears him play and becomes his motivating inspiration. Their tender friendship is mediated by their mutual love for music, and many people have referred to this film as a musical, what with a dozen or so songs that move the story along. Best of all is a surprise and decidedly ambiguous ending. Actors Glen Hansard of the Dublin-based group The Frames and the Czech singer-songwriter Marketa Irglova (age 17) sing their own songs in this feel-good flick.

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