But the film begins with them very much in love -- she giving him a haircut in a modest room while he marvels, “It’s a great life we have, isn’t it?” We soon watch the pair at the seaside, running naked into the surf like kids getting away with something.In some cases, couples want to literally “be” them, and why not? Yet, reality intrudes and it should be noted that I’m not talking about the Bravo-sanctioned diva drama that dominates the airwaves and the blogosphere. Hansard’s father, a longtime alcoholic, finally succumbs to his drinking and Hansard begins to question the existential struggles of life, while Irglová seeks to find a haven for herself, away from Hansard’s overwhelming presence and that of the pop life that has not been a good fit for her.Couples on the verge of splitting sometimes say that they simply found themselves in different places, wanting different things, or that they have grown apart, and after a while it just sounds like a line, a standard refrain for people who very likely were never really all that compatible in the first place.If the handsome black-and-white film sensitively captures frictions between characters who continue to love and respect each other, it isn’t obsessed with this discomfort zone.The filmmakers are happy for diversions, like a tour-bus dance party and a post-gig song-swapping session where the group’s Irish crew go ballad-for-ballad with the stars.The two spend a satisfying chunk of time recalling the musical spark that led to the Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” and resulting success with descriptions of that chemistry are borne out with present-day tour footage.
And afterward, Hansard longs to see and thank everyone.
And Irglová has found the seeds of her own voice, maybe, and they have dug down deep into the soil and taken root.
As she sings in the studio as the credits roll, alone and accompanying herself on guitar rather than piano, there is no hint of wavering or halting in the tone.
He is so grateful because he still remembers those early days when he played before much smaller crowds on the streets and in nearly empty beer-soaked rooms.
Irglová, though, is shy and more intrinsically intimate; she needs to shut the door to faces in the crowds, retreat from the stage to some more natural boundary, a place where it doesn’t make sense to have your picture taken with someone you don’t really know.