THE STORY – In 1985, a Dublin teenager (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) forms a rock ‘n’ roll band to win the heart of an aspiring model (Lucy Boynton).
THE CAST – Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor & Kelly Thornton
THE TEAM – John Carney (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 105 Minutes
By Matt N.
“Sing Street” features music, which is comprised of original songs by the film’s fictional band and includes nostalgic hits by A-Ha, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Clash and others, ensuring that this film will be a crowd pleaser no matter what. Fortunately, the rest of the film is pretty great as well. John Carney has grown by leaps and bounds as a filmmaker that he crafts what is personally my new favorite film of his. It’s a film that celebrates creativity and individualism, fueled by one’s own personal experiences, resulting in a film that is good natured and light hearted in its idealism. It certainly helps that it is boosted by a talented young cast of unknown child actors and packs a rocking soundtrack that will have you running quickly to your personal device to download all of the catchy musical songs instantly.
Set in Dublin Ireland in 1985, music was changing from a live experience into the music video generation. Conor “Cosmo” Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has been pulled out of high school due to his parent’s financial issues and placed within a disciplinary Christian boy’s school known as The Christian Brothers, located on Synge Street. Connor is a victim of not only the school bully and the school’s principal Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley), but also his parents strained marriage back at home. Then one day, while walking home from school, he is drawn to a girl sitting by herself known as Raphina (Lucy Boynton). She may be older and more experienced than Conor, but he is determined to win her affections and he tells her a little white lie to impress her that he needs her for a music video his band is making. All of sudden, Conor now finds himself in a situation where he needs to quickly form a band to win the heart and affections of the girl he’s after. He partners up with his downbeat brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), who is a knowledgeable musician himself but decided not to do anything with it, and a group of friends at the school to develop the band “Sing Street.”
It brings sheer joy to see young artists evolve through their camaraderie and creativity in this humanistic view of a group of young boys (And a girl, in Lucy Boynton’s case) searching for their own identities through the power of music. John Carney has such a knack for expressing the power of music through the cinema art form that I personally never want to see him sway from this consistent winning formula. Seeing all of the characters grow in their musical abilities, teamwork, and visual look brings great happiness to the viewer as we feel their obstacles, troubles, and triumphs. Although the film may prove too impractical and neat for some, the journey that Cosmo takes in his personal, professional and romantic lifestyle is captivating and relatable.
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is credible and likable in his transformation of Cosmo throughout the film’s briskly paced 105 minutes. His scenes are elevated every time he shares the screen with his stoner older brother Brendan (Convincingly played with blissful charisma and wisdom by Jack Reynor) and his love interest, the insecure yet magnetic Raphina (Played with believability by breakout star Lucy Boynton). All of Cosmo’s other bandmates are good in the film as well (And talented musicians), but it’s the extra dialogue and screen time afforded to Mark McKenna and Ben Carolan which helps them to stand out a little bit more. Where the film stumbles a bit is the over the top and unbelievable mean-spirited nature of Brother Baxter played with stern resolve by Don Wycherley. It’s not necessarily Don’s performance that falters, but instead, it’s the screenplay’s harsh depiction of an authoritative figure which felt like it belonged in a different type of film.
“Sing Street” is a nice look at teenage romance, set against a unique backdrop which provides the film its enjoyable identity. It represents yet another great step within John Carney’s filmography and boasts terrific music, which is at times nostalgic and incredibly relevant to the film’s message and themes. Cosmo is a hopeless romantic and that kind of passion which he shows for Raphina and his music results in a genre which the band calls “Happy/Sad.” It stands as the perfect representation of how one may look at a film such as “Sing Street.” It will either make you feel incredibly sad, happy or a combination of both depending on what experience’s you bring to the picture. I can safely say I personally experienced all of those emotions throughout and wanted nothing more than for the film to keep on playing once it reached its pitch-perfect ending. Now excuse me while I retreat to my playlist for some of that happy/sad by this year’s newest breakout band “Sing Street.”
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A rocking soundtrack with believable characters and a crowd pleasing story that will have you cheering by the end.
THE BAD – The screenplay’s focus on authority figures teeters on becoming too ridiculous.