As much as I am often inclined to suppress it, I have distinct romantic tendencies. I love old romantic comedies, shitloads of sappy music, and a whole lot of other things of which I should know better than to fall for... So yes, I did fall for the indie film Once that featured musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova playing cinematically-constructed characters, that still seemed to be to some extent versions of themselves. Shot for nearly nothing (in film terms) in intimate pseudo-documentary style, Once even made it to the Oscars (and won) and made truckloads of filthy lucre. I just watched the “actual” documentary The Swell Season, approaching it with a certain trepidation, like some unwanted appendix to the earlier film, but found it pretty remarkable. Low key, shot in black and white, the film follows the inevitable trainwreck (well, not that horrible, relatively speaking, but who wants to have their picture taken with hordes of grotesque American fans everyday while on tour—certainly not Irglova...) subsequent to Hansard and Irglova’s insanely rapid trajectory to fame. Some of the stuff on view is merely obvious: Irish musicians drunkenly singing Acapella; but the footage of Hansard’s father, a boxer who cut short his own aspirations would appear to be a tired cliché but in this context is genuinely moving. As might be expected, Hansard and Irglova, a couple in real life—at least for a few years—get rather stressed and snippy in the course of The Swell Season’s filming, and their separation begins to feel almost inevitable. Even if schematized a bit for the sake of documentary, at least no intrusive animations or voiceovers or other dumbass current “techniques” are used here. Relative simplicity instead, and it rules, as we watch events unfold and we feel invited into a peculiar (but not entirely uncommon) situation of contemporary fame.