Director John Carney’s distinct filmmaking style, previously on display with the Oscar- (and eventually Tony) winning Once, as well as Begin Again, is back again in the small but infinitely charming coming-of-ager, Sing Street, which The Weinstein Company is rolling out starting today.
Just as in the other two films, music merged with simple tales of love and life are at its core, but this time the lead characters are much younger. As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch) this one fits writer/director Carney’s talents to a tee and even though he has made many different types of films in the past, this “brand” is his sweet spot. And ours. You will have a smile on your face throughout, watching our main guy, 14-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) trying just to deal with growing pains in 1980’s Dublin. There is trouble at home with the strained marriage of his parents, money woes in the family, and rough treatment at outside of the home where he is bullied by both students and priests at the depressing Catholic school he attends. A ray of glorious light comes into his life though, in the form of Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who seems like a goddess to him, but how can he win her heart? Easy. He invites her to star in the music video he and his band are producing. The only slight problem is there really is no video because there is no band, but with Raphina on the hook he creates one, enlisting his ragtag buddies to get musical quickly. Before you know it they are shooting a video starring Raphina and things take off from there in this slight, but more than slightly intoxicating-like gem.
The dialogue sparkles, the songs (co-written by Carney who himself was in a band during this period), and the actors are perfect. At its center, Walsh-Peelo displays all the pangs of growing up in the tough environment of Dublin at that time. Boynton makes us wholly believe she could be the object of his affection. Jack Reynor all but steals every scene he is in as older brother Brendan, who has a different take on life and isn’t afraid to share it. The bandmates are nicely chosen, even if the other rough kids and priests at the school seem a bit more one dimensional.
Sing Street blessedly doesn’t dwell on the realities around Conor, merely on the kid himself as he tries to fulfill his dreams. The cool tunes set the mood , but this is likely Carney’s most personal film yet, one done with love for a certain period in your life just before you find out that maybe everything isn’t possible. If that sounds a little cynical, seeing Sing Street (the title refers to the name of the band) may make you a little more optimistic. At the very least it will make you happy and lift your spirits. Anthony Bergman and Martina Niland produced.
Do you plan to see Sing Street? Let us know what you think.