Posted May 18 2016

Sing Street - This Movie Pop Rocks

Dir: John Carney

Starring Ferdia Walsh Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle-Kennedy, Mark McKenna

In his career so far, John Carney has made three movies that – in the simplest of ways – extoll the sheer, basic beauty and redemptive power of pop music. The first was Once, a musical in disguise as a street musician’s story. The next, Begin Again, looked to literally make the streets the music itself. And now, the one that puts the ‘Street” in the title, but takes the music into the school and, more importantly, the bedrooms and front rooms of its protagonists. Sing Street is, very simply, the story of an Irish boy in 1985 Dublin who decides to form a band just because he fancies a girl. Has there ever been a better, or purer reason to form a band than that?

One of the great things about Sing Street – and it’s a film that reveals itself slowly – is how well it reflects its central character. It starts off tentative and uncertain, feeling itself out just as young Cosmo (Walsh-Peelo) is taking his first stabs at writing a song. It’s not terribly good to begin with, but it learns quickly, and starts to find its feet. After all, a pretty girl is always a fine inspiration. And as Cosmo and his band – all beautifully played, none more so than McKenna as the nerdy co-writer (think the Edge to Cosmo’s Bono) – struggle to find their musical feet (they move from Duran Duran to The Cure to The Clash to Spandau to Hall & Oates in rapid succession) they slowly do that thing that all great teen movies capture – they grow up in front of you. And this is a great teen movie, one that wears its knowledge of John Hughes like you wear your band’s badge on your school blazer, to stand out form the rest.

Then of course there’s the music. The period soundtrack hits all the right notes – we dare you not to tear up when In Between Days cranks up by the way. But it’s the band’s own material that the film has to stand or fall upon. As largely co-written by Carney and Danny Wilson’s Gary Clark (with a little help from Begin Again co-star and sometime Maroon 5-er Adam Levine) - it works. It’s not strictly ‘80s, it’s very generic pop, and boy do they come along quickly in terms of professionalism. But it works. And the young actors playing it work. Walsh-Peelo is fantastic, going from zero to hero despite a few fashion and hair moments. Jack Reynor takes the thankless job of the older brother with all the vinyl, and turns it into something original and even genuinely moving.

But the film really belongs to Boynton as the de facto inspiration for every great love song ever written. She is tremendous, and if casting directors up and down the world don’t notice her work here – give up the job mate.

Sing Street the movie, just like Sing Street the band, really does hit all the right notes. Rock on Mr Carney!

"It's all about the girl, isn't it?" 


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