Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna
Irish filmmaker John Carney continues to carve out a specific niche in cinema that audiences can’t seem to get enough of. One might think that film after film with a narrative set to characters becoming musicians would get old. Carney’s scripts are personal, like our lead character in the film who writes songs about the girl he loves, the friends he’s made and the nasty headmaster; Carney writes from experience and surroundings. While not a huge fan of breakout Once (2007), his collaboration with mainstream Hollywood, Begin Again (2013) was perfection in every way. Sing Street is almost as good as Begin Again, so is the music. This time it’s young high school dreamers in a coming of age story set in the 80’s.
His parents fight every night while Cosmo (Peelo) seeks advice from his older brother Brendan (Reynor) who dropped out of college. There will be cuts in the family budget as the parents of three adolescents decide if they will endure or separate. That means posh Cosmo is off to catholic school with the rest of the local Dublin punks. Almost instantly, the eager 15-year-old fixates on Raphina (Boynton) who is older and dating a grown man. He decides to form a band, with misfits alike and it turns out they are pretty good and Raphina stars in their homemade music videos. “Sing Street” they call themselves, their music gets increasingly better with each song they compose and Cosmo that much closer to his goal.
one of the most rewarding and inspirational films for younger audiences, not to mention one of the spring seasons most unique and original creations.
In Begin Again, Keria Knightly’s character started a band to unleash frustrations out on her ex. Cosmo starts a band to win the heart of the unattainable. Carney thinks, writes and directs with music in mind, although you wouldn’t exactly call his films musicals. His harmony for mixing comedy and drama is what makes his work so welcoming. In Carney’s world characters always use music to find happiness even when they are sad. By the time the boys write the second song, Sing Street has found its footing, pace and the audience already wants to buy the album. It’s an aggressive jump from band assembly, Brendan smashing their first cassette tape because it’s so awful, to wanting to hear the next song. We buy into it because we just want to hear more.
What Begin Again did for New York in the spring, Sing Street does for Dublin in the 1980’s. The breakout first time actors in the film are astonishingly impressive especially lead Peelo. The High School Musical dream sequence where “Sing Street” ready’s to play their first live gig is the film’s highest production value moment. It’s a small film like Carney’s others that relies far more on old fashion storytelling than fancy gimmicks, sets or cinematography. Adam Levine returns in a song that plays the film into the credits and very likely could be one of many original tunes written by Carney for the film to be considered come awards season. It’s one of the most rewarding and inspirational films for younger audiences (not that they will see it) not to mention one of the spring seasons most unique and original creations.
Carney is quickly becoming one of the most dependable filmmakers for having a first rate experience at the cinema.