Writer: John Carney
Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice; Ian Kenny.
Whether it was the Irish accent, the characters or the 80s music (had a buddy with me who couldn’t help but sing along), Sing Street was a winner for me.
I enjoyed director, John Carney’s previous film, Begin Again (2013) and the way music was incorporated into the story of Sing Street was very similar: a stylised act used sparingly so it didn’t feel like a musical, just a film with a lot of music.
And Sing Street had grit. This is Ireland in the 1980s: lack of jobs and money, where alcoholism is rife and anyone who can escape to London is jumping on that ferry.
For those left. It’s just a dream.
Conor Lalor’s (Ferdi Walsh-Peelo) parents are skint. Money pressures lead to fighting, to tightening the belt. Money has to be saved somewhere. So Conor is transferred to the catholic school run by the Brothers featuring kids running amok.
Black-eyed and bullied, Conor meets the girl of his dreams, Raphina (Lucy Bonton). A model, no less. Showing courage, or just the power of teenage hormones, he invites Raphina to feature in a music video for his band.
She says, ‘Yeah maybe’.
Problem is, he doesn’t have a band.
This is a kid with a serious crush. So he goes about putting together a band (Sing Street), the introduction of fellow band members and his brother, Brendan Lalor encouraging Conor, AKA, Cosmo, maps out the story of the film. With 80s music featured, of course.
I’m talking boys with make-up and music from The Clash, The Cure, Duran Duran and many of the original tracks performed by Sing Street composed by Gary Clark (of the Northern Irish band, Relish) with John Carney able to take credit for co-writing a lot of the songs. So that’s credit for directing, writing the script and writing songs? That’s impressive.
Also, this is an extremely hard film to make without becoming saccharine. Thankfully, there was more meat to the story of boy has crush on girl out of reach, so I’ll put together a band and then she’ll love me. This is film about escape from and the acceptance of all life can throw at you. To plow through whatever the arguments, bullying and crap and to get on with it and create something else. To feel something else.
It takes courage to reach.
I believed the shy Cosmo with his blushing cheeks, overcoming fear to reach for those stars. And his muse, Raphina, could have been just a pretty yet annoying character, but she had class and philosophy – ‘That’s what love is Cosmo,’ she says. ‘Happy-sad’.
Look, musicals aren’t really my thing – Glee? Forget it! But the way the music was incorporated into Sing Street was seamless. And the tongue-in-cheek humour helped a lot, giving those few forgivable cheesy moments just the right touch to feel authentic.
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