Friday, 10 June 2016

Sing Street: Film Review

Sing Street: Film Review


Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy
Director: John Carney

There’s plenty to love in John Carney’s cloyingly generic yet somehow winning uplifting coming of age tale, Sing Street, even if it does skirt with a story you’ve heard many times before and tackles any kind of cynicism head on.

Carney’s musical trilogy and the meaning of music began with the romance of the duo of Once, before taking a circuitous route with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again.

It’s come full circle with 80s Dublin set tale Dublin about Conor (newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, channeling elements of Moone Boy Padraig’s charming simplicity) and his uprooting to a state school, because of financial family issues.

Initially bullied at the new school (so far, so stereotypical) Conor decides on a whim to impress Lucy Boynton’s Raphina whom he sees hanging about the school. Believing her claim she's a model and needing to be cool, he tells her he’s in a band and they need for a shoot.

The only problem – the band’s non-existent and the clock is ticking for Conor to pull together a ragtag crew of musical misfits to win over the day - and potentially, the girl.

As previously alluded to, the musical comedy Sing Street isn’t exactly original, but by goodness, it’s certainly heart-warming fare that proves hard to resist, thanks to a heady mix of pop nostalgia and some solid performances from a largely unknown cast as well as a comic script that is laugh out loud funny in places and bitterly recognisable in others.

But it also helps that Carney once again demonstrates his immense directorial nous for bringing music to life.

As with Once’s 2007 pairing of Glen and Marketa’s live performance inside a studio and 2013’s Begin Again bringing dormant musical instruments together to show how a song is constructed by those who understand music, Carney’s exuberance is evident in his musical execution.

From the faux New Romantic Be Kind Rewind style video of Conor’s first song (the annoyingly catchy earworm The Riddle of The Model) to a tautly executed shot from within a solo rehearsal in a front room that swirls and turns into a full on front room band performance, Carney’s aptitude for breathing life into music and demonstrating why so many are so passionate about it is immensely and satisfyingly contagious.

There’s an earnestness to Sing Street that is undeniable too, even if it does wear its heart on its sleeve and bellows its occasionally bittersweet, happy/ sad narrative universality to many.

The whole story actually pivots on the fraternal relationship between Conor and the terrific Jack Reynor’s Brendon, a college drop-out and stoner whose guidance of Conor’s musical education becomes more formative than he could have realised.

While the other fripperies of the coming-of-age genre are skirted with (hints of abusive priests at school, the bully at school, the potentially unattainable girl) and the characters of the band fall away in the wash, underdeveloped despite initial flirtations and amusements, this one relationship between brothers is central to proceedings and is as crucial to the proceedings as Conor’s musical journey.

There’s no denying that the rite-of-passage Sing Street is wish-fulfilment film-making in extremis and feel-good fare that could clog the arteries , but it’s difficult not to fall hard for this toe-tapping flick given the immense charm and spirited optimistic energy that springs from the screen.

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