“Sing Street” Movie Review

During my years in high school, I tried putting a band together with my friends. Now after watching this movie, I’m tempted to do so again. This musical dramedy from writer-director John Carney premiere at the Sundance Film Festival before gaining a release in the United States in April of 2016, going on to gross $13.6 million at the box office. It initially gained little attention from Western audiences, but the rave reviews encouraged the Weinstein Company to give it a run in select theaters in the U.S. Set in inner-city Dublin in 1985, the story follows a young teenager named Conor Lawlor who is moved to a free-state Catholic school in the middle of family turmoil. After making some friends, he meets a beautiful model named Raphina. In order to impress her, he assembles a band called Sing Street whose music videos she can star in as a stock character. This movie already sounds more boring than it actually is, but it surprised me. Everything in Sing Street oozes 1980’s fodder, from music records to retro music videos MTV to outfits to the original songs. If you are an adult who grew up during this decade, this movie could be one of the biggest nostalgia bombs ever conceived. I mean it; it’s trippy. All of the child actors, lead by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as the charismatic head of the titular band, are terrific. Something tells me that I’m going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future. In supporting roles, Game of Thrones alum Aiden Gillen is mundane as the protagonist’s father, Don Wycherley is a stern school teacher whom Conor frequently butts heads with, and Maria Doyle Kennedy is unstable as the mother. The real standout player, however, is Jack Reynor as Conor’s older brother. A washed-up, profane, yet oddly insightful burnout, his unconventional sincerity make for some of the sweetest scenes in the movie. Some scenes made me laugh when he would be verbally pouring out his knowledge of 20th-century music, others left me breathless at how realistic his relationship with Conor is- to the point where it’s almost hard to watch. Reynor’s performance may be one of the greatest siblings ever put to the celluloid, be it in this century or the last. And of course, what’s there to talk about a musical without actually talking about the songs themselves? I call it a musical because even though nobody breaks out into song in the middle of a scene, there are enough original songs in the soundtrack that help tell the story to qualify. My personal favorite from the selection was the track “Drive It Like You Stole It,” which is played about two-thirds of the way through the plot. Easily the biggest throwback to the 1980’s in the entire movie. “Why,” you might ask? Watch Robert Zemeckis’ original Back to the Future film from 1985, and it will make sense as to why it was so awesome to watch. But there’s no denying that every song written for the movie is totally original, and invokes the vibe of this lost decade. Synthesizers? Check. Ridiculous wardrobes for music videos and live stage performances? Check. Absurd vocal range? Check. Sappy, mushy love ballads contrasted by fast-paced anthems? Double Check. Also, the two leads in the movie share great chemistry with one another. Lucy Boynton as Raphina was mysterious and intriguing, just said in the band’s song,l “The Riddle of the Model.” Their story is completely heartwarming from start to finish, wearing a fierce sense of optimism firmly on its tweed jacket shoulder. Looking at the decrepit state of inner-city Dublin, you know they should just find a way to get out of there. So whether you’ve ever done absurd things to impress someone you have a crush on or have a sibling you can rely on for help, I don’t see a reason why audience members wouldn’t be able to relate to this movie. If you can’t, well that just means you haven’t been running around in the social world long enough to understand. Available on the streaming service Netflix for free, Sing Street is an understated yet beautiful love through music and character interactions. I encourage my American viewers to give this one a shot, if you haven’t already.

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