In Dublin of the 1980s, Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) finds himself sent to a new school – the Christian Brothers’ school on Dublin’s Synge Street – after his family runs into financial trouble. While trying to impress Raphina (Lucy Boynton), Connor tells her he is in a band, and finds himself having to reverse engineer one when she agrees to be in their music video.
John Carney’s latest film carries on the warm, huggable feel of Begin Again, with a tale of first loves and heartbreaks that has touches of The Commitments and School of Rock, with a sprinkling of John Hughes-esque teen romance for good measure.
The young cast of Sing Street do a great job of making the film come to life, Lucy Boynton, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka and Karl Rice are backed up by a lovely turn from Jack Reynor playing the pop psychology spouting, pop music loving Brendan, the brother of our young hero. The adults are made up of Don Wycherley, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Aidan Gillen who have significantly less to do, other than deliver plot points and foil plans.
John Carney’s screenplay for Sing Street feels autobiographical and deeply personal, and it is this, combined with the energy of the young cast, the infectious songs and the great big dollops of Dublin humour that makes the film so charming. As well as new songs composed for the film – each in the style of a different 80s artist, such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and The Cure – the film’s soundtrack features songs from the greatest hits of past; keep an ear out for ‘I Fought the Law’ by The Clash, ‘Maneater’ by Hall & Oates, and ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet. The original songs are charming and sweet, with plenty of references to Dublin streets and landmarks for the home audiences.
The story of the film is simple – boy meets girl, boy starts band to impress girl – but it is the songs, the energy and the dialogue between the characters, which swings from insulting banter to charming in the blink of an eye, which makes the film special. Although the arc of Sing Street is fairly small, the crescendo is a gig at the school disco, this is such an emotional triumph for the characters that this small scale becomes part of the film’s charm.
In all, Sing Street is a great big ball of energy, songs and humour, as well as a story about first love, first heartbreak and making tough choices. Less of a musical than a film with songs, Sing Street has a huge heart and captures the breathlessness of young love.