Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová captured the world’s imagination with Once and their subsequent Oscar win. Irglová’s moving acceptance speech at the 2008 ceremony spoke of how hope can open the gateway to fulfilling your wildest dreams.
The Swell Season follows the pair as they discover what happens next and provides a captivating insight into the reality of getting everything you've ever wanted. In many ways The Swell Season is the non-fiction flip-side to Once.
The Swell Season documents the couple’s world tour and provides a startlingly intimate insight into their relationship off stage. The pair talk about the development of their music and their romance as one and the same thing and as the film unfolds it becomes clear that the two things are intricately intertwined.
Fame has come a-calling and it seems they are wholly unprepared. Interviews with fans outside of music venues across America demonstrate the impact that the couple’s music has had on the world. It is a significant weight to bear, and as both Hansard and Irglová struggle to accommodate it in very different ways it is both uncomfortable to watch and impossible to look away.
The film is beautifully shot entirely in black and white and this serves as a reminder that the tale of fame’s burdensome nature is not new but rarely do we see it play out in such a poignant and intimate way. The trio of directors, for the most part, manage to capture the texture of the complex relationships between those on screen. Hansard’s parents are central to the film’s narrative and many of the artist’s personal demons are presented as shadows of his father’s struggles. Indeed Hansard’s turbulent emotions are pivotal to the film and Irglová’s perspective is often diminished to allow room for her partner.
Fans of The Swell Season’s music will not be disappointed, the soundtrack is unsurprisingly excellent. The footage of the band on stage is emotionally raw and as the couple’s relationship begins to buckle the vulnerability of their music becomes increasingly poignant.
There are some very Irish laughs throughout the film, but it is the sentimental portrait of a difficult relationship in unexpected circumstances that will stay with you.
Directed by: Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins and Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Starring: Glen Hansard and Markéta IrglováThe Swell Season is in selected cinemas December 6