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“Don’t forget, Glen, what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted,” a woman cautions outside a concert hall in Anytown, U.S.A. Glen Hansard, the lanky Irish singer/songwriter, just smiles as more fans tell him and Markéta Irglová, his musical and romantic partner nearly 20 years his junior, how they fell in love with their story. That universal swoon happened in 2008, when the duo won a surprise Oscar for their song “Falling Slowly,” the centerpiece of the cute Irish drama Once. The Swell Season, named for Hansard and Irglová’s band, documents the two years of touring that followed—a grueling world trek during which the couple broke up. On the most superficial level it’s a beautiful film, shot in black and white and containing extended musical passages. But while plumbing the dynamics of Hansard and Irglová’s relationship—he’s a road warrior whose band The Frames never achieved the wide success for which he pined, she’s unaccustomed to hard touring and skeptical of the spotlight—the film lays out Hansard’s personality flaws as nakedly as he arranges his songs. It turns out Hansard likes the drama of being a struggling musician, leading to a sadsack conversation about the perils of newfound fame that he ends as soon as Irglová calls him on his bullshit. With his painfully literal lyrics and the voice of a chain-smoking Phil Collins, Hansard has made a long career of his high-emotional folk rock. If he wrote better music, his personal shortcomings would be a lot more forgivable.
Monday, June 20 7:30 p.m.; also on Sunday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. Both showings at AFI Silver 1.