Review by Lauryn Angel
John Carney’s latest film, Sing Street, will get you singing along and dancing in your seat, as the soundtrack is as important a character as protagonist Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) or the object of his teenage desire, Raphina (Lucy Boynton). The soundtrack includes seminal tracks from Motorhead, The Cure, the Jam, and Hall and Oates, as well as original tunes by the titular band that fit perfectly alongside these classic tunes. (“The Riddle of the Model” and “Drive It Like You Stole It” are particular standouts.)
The film opens on Connor in his bedroom, attempting to write a song whilst his parents Penny (Maria Doyle-Kennedy) and Robert (Aidan Gillen)fight – again. Shortly after, Penny and Maria call a family meeting inform Connor and his siblings Brendan (Jack Reynor) and Ann (Kelly Thornton) that the family will be making some changes – including sending Connor to a new (and cheaper) school. Connor doesn’t fit in well at his new school – his ways are too posh for his working -class classmates, and some of the teachers look down on him as well. With Brendan’s tutelage, Connor channels his feelings through music, and, mostly to impress Raphina, he forms a band with other students who don’t seem to fit in.
The movie is ostensibly a love story, but it’s also much more than that. It’s about chasing dreams and doing what you’re passionate about. Brendan is perhaps the most interesting character outside of the boys in the band; he mentors his younger brother, not just about music and girls, but about life. The discussion between the three siblings about the difference between a career and a vocation really serves as the heart of the film, with Brendan strongly on the side of finding a vocation, feeling a calling for an occupation, whereas Ann takes the side of finding a sensible career. Brendan’s message is not just for his younger brother, but clearly for the audience as well.
Sing Street captures the essence of the 80’s well (at least as I remember them, and I wasn’t much younger than Connor in 1986), and that’s part of the fun. With each new musical influence Connor and his friends explore, they experiment with a new wardrobe. This includes make-up, which the boys aren’t so eager to explore at first, but by the end of the film, eyeshadow and rouged cheekbones are de rigueur. The videos they create (at first as a vehicle to gain Raphina’s attention) are also a lot of fun, and a commentary on the early days of music videos – which Brendan steadfastly champions as art.
Sing Street is a lot of fun and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Its message is not new, but the characters are endearing, the music is catchy, and it will put a smile on your face.
SING STREET arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand on July 26.