Movie Review: Sing Street

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.

 

Movie Review: Sing Street

“Exile on Main Street” by the Rolling Stones

Whistle smooth, flowing free like the breeze in an alley

at night, “Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones kicks, like a styrofoam

pink dice mule, and “Rip this Joint” claws through its velvet

curtains for you, a parading saxaphone hoists your symbol

up on a pike, piercing the god shadow of night’s

dark disguise, so by the time you boogie on the roulette

wheel you’re plastered, shaking your hips in a tumble

time of reflection, wondering whether wounded lovers

compose a jury, squealing like a one-string guitar

in a ballad for the moon, raised up on dice angels

low down crazy wailing, pleading in a rain storm

of “Tumbling Dice” enough is never said, but a mourning

dawn’s harmonica leads into a barroom

sing along chorus, scraping the shit off

all of our shoes, to see “Sweet Virginia”

“Torn and Frayed” brings a “Loving Cup”

full of mud, begging a drink, slowing to a pause.

 

I need love to keep me “Happy,” you’re god damn

right over horns again, we are all on the run

from nothing and everything, rejoicing in our losses

with an accordion squeeze, “Ventilator Blues” tether on a drum

beat slowly constant, building slowly on a desire

until we “Let it Loose” in the sky, floating over a choir

of beautiful spirits, patterned with piano

horn and organ, for a pal to join us

“All Down the Line” greasy with oil sweating

tears of joy, but I won’t break down

ever, into the piano pit with the blues

hounds all around, they’re all my friends and allies

chuffing me a good clip, releasing into joyous chorus

feeling the life of light, shining from the good lord

shining a song, calling you the “Soul Survivor”

with bell-bottom blues, spilling onto everything.

 

This is my favorite album, and it changed my life.

“Exile on Main Street” by the Rolling Stones

Poem: Ring the Bell

It’s fight day, today

in the sun we’re roasting and anticipating

a bloodbath, packed in a blender

set to spray the walls with guts, screaming out the names

of our gods and loved ones, plaintiff

under the rolling pin

of progress, undirected asphalt sovereign

lords of deafness, under their hoods

we see the glowing eyes

are hypnotic, sticking us

with the bill, none are an ally

of any dead men pulling, permanent casino fixtures

glimpse hope as impossible.

 

I can see the hatch, above so small

to crawl through a crack

seems death down, to the core

of everyone, but they beg our pardon

telling to try again, once more to the breach

dear friends depart, clanking the shutters

down over the exit hole, glimpse the opponent

in the eyes, looking through

the mirror and me, locked in savage

combat of love

music art making,

Poem: Ring the Bell