Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy
Directed by: John Carney
Cert: 12A Running Time: 105 minutes
As he so wonderfully captured the world of a struggling musician busking on the streets of the capital in Once, so again has writer/director John Carney returned to Dublin, capturing the essence of what it is to be a teenager, slowly discovering their own identity and place in the world through the prism of music in his latest opus Sing Street. Set in 1985 during the recession, the film follows fifteen-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) as he transfers from his private school to the tough inner city streets of the Synge Street Christian Brothers School. Upon meeting the beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton) he and his friends form a band in the hope that she’ll star in a music video for them, kicking off Conor’s journey to find himself through music and win the girl of his dreams. Gloriously transporting you back to a time when Top of The Pops was the highlight of the week, Mars bars were 25p and stonewash denim and mohair jumpers weren’t complete without big hair, it’s a gorgeous slice of nostalgia played out to the likes of Duran Duran, The Cure, Hall and Oates and Spandau Ballet.
Comparison’s with The Commitments are preordained. It too is about a band, it’s set in Dublin, it’s funny and there are lots of toe-tapping brilliant songs on offer and Sing Street very much feels like a teenage cousin of Alan Parker’s film. Carney has assembled a talented young cast that bring a musical authenticity to their roles making their characters resonate all the more. Walsh-Peelo and Mark McKenna (who plays Eamon, the other half of Conor’s song writing duo) are just terrific and the original infectious songs they perform throughout the film will have you tapping your feet in the cinema and humming them on the way home. Lucy Boynton as the gorgeous Raphina handles what could have been a one-dimensional part with skill and thanks to great writing from Carney delivers a soulful performance as we get to see underneath her outwardly cool 80’s glam exterior.
Like any perfect teen movie it’s populated by adults who have lost their grip on life. Conor’s parents (Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) are heading towards a separation (as divorce is outlawed), Eamon’s father is absent and Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley), who runs the Christian Brothers school is a monstrous bully. The only voice of reason Conor listens to comes in the shape of his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) who distils his advice on music, girls and the freedom of creativity to his keen ears and though Reynor is largely housebound, he does his best to inject his stoner loner with the wilted ambitions of one who may yet flourish. It’s a film about literally finding your voice and following your own path and these teens, like others seen in the 80’s movies of John Hughes, are quite aware of what they are going through and need little adult help or supervision.
A dream sequence where one of their videos plays out like the prom scene from Back To The Future will put a big smile on your face with a massive dance routine and the numerous looks tried out by the band as they settle on an image are both hilarious and so true of the time. Sing Street is a brilliant, funny, nostalgic delight. I defy you to not hum “Drive It Like You Stole It” on the way out.
Click on the links below to watch my interviews with the cast and director John Carney over at TheMovieBit.com: