As I sat in the smallest screen in Empire Cinemas, I had a feeling Sing Street was going to become my new favourite film. From the trailer alone the piece looked rooted in music: both the making and exploring of it. And any film that’s all about the music is to gain a new fan in me.
From the word go my attention was caught and never lost. Set in the depths of 1980’s Dublin, our struggling teen Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) gets transferred to a slum Christian Brothers School by the name of Synge Street. The film doesn’t shy away from the various murky undertones that the school carries. Yaron Orbach’s cinematography paints a clear picture of the various types of abuse that lay dormant in every corner, but it’s not used as a grotesque shock tactic but rather to illustrate the time period and strengthen our protagonist.
Sing Street carries a wide range of emotions. I began laughing, as young Conor tries to lead a band of six, only to discover that they can’t even make it through Duran Duran’s Rio. I watched them stumble through song after song, but then the pace of the plot radically changes as Conor’s older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) urges them to write their first original piece. From then on they just get better and better, soaking up influence after influence, trying look after look: The Cure, Spandau Ballet, A-Ha…
These wondering futurists find their sound, and it’s good, their songs are fucking good. (Even if this doesn’t persuade you to purchase this gem- though I hope it does- for God’s sake, buy the soundtrack), a whole heap of thanks goes to Gary Clark here for writing such melodic, ever-lasting tunes. And even more applause for being able to intertwine them with such great 80’s classics.
There’s love of course, Conor strikes up a romance with the ethereal presence that is wannabe model Raphina, beautifully played by Lucy Boynton. This sweet and vulnerable romance works so well, never crossing into the border of cheesy teen love, simply because every character is the product of John Carney’s unique writing style, which is one that creates such well rounded and thought out individuals.
Conor’s relationship with Brendan is also a beautiful one- having a younger brother myself that tugged at many a heartstring. The turmoil he goes through as he discovers his brother’s long buried anger that he used to be the musician, and is now has been relegated to the dropout. The sentiments expressed throughout the film are all of tremendous value, but the one that really got me the most were the scenes in which you see the real struggles of being part of a family. Because they’re absolutely right when they say parents are only humans. They make mistakes and don’t always know what they want.
Despite, all of the weight of the issues addressed in this piece, it never felt too bogged down in the negative. Sing Street is a perfect example of how to balance the gritty with the fantasy, I guess that’s what life is at the end of the day.
So overwhelmed with inspiration was I at the end of the film that myself, I couldn’t bring it in myself to leave the screen just yet and so I sat and watched every credit roll by. The most incredible thing was that when I looked around, I saw everyone else was doing the same.
Well done John Carney, and may this movie’s message long remain.
Sing Street is available to buy on DVD here.