Sing Street is boundlessly enjoyable and irresistibly euphoric, making it feel like the most worthwhile movie watching experience I’ve had in years. Directed by John Carney, who achieved fame creating 2007’s surprise musical hit Once, again packs this film with very good original music (Composed by veteran music producer Gary Clark) to effectively enhance the emotional impact of the story. The film takes the well-worn (i.e overdone) plot line of a troubled youth escaping his depressing home life through music, and while strictly adhering to every cliche of the genre, it elevates the story into something spectacular and life-affirming.
The film’s protagonist is Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), an unassuming frail waif of a teen, who inside carries the heart of a champion. Whereas in a typical coming of age/band formation story the protagonist would admire his muse from afar, crippled by nerves, Conor walks right up to her and asks if she wants a light for the unlit cigarette hanging from her lips. Conor’s queen Raphina (Lucy Boynton) is a fascinating character, reacting to her own depressing circumstance with an iron-faced confidence, she stands on the stoop of the girl’s home where she lives across from the all boys school that Conor attends everyday, watching.
Rafina’s a ward of the State whom we’re led to believe may have been taken away from her father because of sexual abuse (this is only ever hinted at), and she has only threadbare dreams of becoming a model in London. However, she is the catalyst that drives every major step in the creation of this band, and the chemistry she has with Conor quickly becomes the focal point of the movie. Around this relationship Carney found a cast of extremely charming and talented teenagers, particularly Mark McKenna and Ian Kenny, to pack the rest of the film with hilariously honest moments.
Sing Street is a movie about dreams, and the way they can seem impossible until true passion and heartfelt fervor can put them in reach before you know it. This brings us to another key character, Conor’s older brother Robert. Robert is a 20-something college dropout who once upon a time had musical dreams of his own, but rather than any type of jealousy, he loves imparting his love of popular music onto Conor. Robert’s deep love for his little brother is written on his face at every scene. At one moment in the film, Robert leaps into the air with triumphant joy at Conor’s courage and risk-taking, and watching Sing Street made me want to join along.
Sing Street (2016)
Director: John Carney
Writer: John Carney
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as Conor
Lucy Boynton as Raphina
Jack Reynor as Robert
Trailer addendum: This trailer, when I first saw it, seemed hokey like a paint-by-numbers coming-of-age story, and in a way that’s what Sing Street is, but having seen the movie, even the trailer is joyously powerful.