Hot Take: Music, youth, hope and dreams. John Carney’s latest will suck you in and have you fully invested. How can a movie be a “feel good” hit yet be so emotional? It’s only May but it’s the best movie of the year so far!
A wave came over me about 30 minutes into Sing Street. I wanted to rewind it back and start over. It’s not a feeling I get much watching a film. I can’t even remember the last time it happened. About an hour in, I felt I could watch this movie 100 times and never grow tired of it. Like an infectious pop song, Sing Street seeped into my brain but unlike that bubble gum pop tune, I didn’t want it to go anywhere. By the end, I was so wrapped up in these characters — 15-year-old Conor Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who started a band to get the phone number of a beautiful 16-year-old girl, Raphina (Lucy Boynton) most of all — I was emotionally invested. To the point where the last 15 minutes or so moved me.
Give John Carney a lot of credit for his ability to infuse music and the motion picture together. The Sing Street writer/director’s use of music to keep the heart of this film pumping is incredible. The mixture of hit 80s music (the film takes place in Dublin in 1985) with the original collaborations written for Conor’s band sells the authenticity of the songs. The heart of the film is the creative process and the organic nature of this band’s relationship and how it morphs from an escape from a harsh reality to a legitimate band and true friendship amongst the band mates.
There’s also the romanticism of first love. Conor’s muse in our eyes is a young girl from a broken family who is being fed nonsense by an older man about being a model in London to essentially prey on her dreams. In Conor’s eyes, she’s perfect. Her passion to become something is inspirational. Her beauty stops him in his tracks. He loves the way she talks. He loves everything about her. As the band’s songwriter, she’s the driving force behind many of their songs.
Family and brotherhood are also another driving theme. Conor’s brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) acts as Conor’s mentor in his quest to become a real musician. Brendan’s passion and drive push Conor further into the musical world. Brendan tells Conor like it is, even when he think his band’s music is terrible. He never stops encouraging him though. Brendan even gets a little jealous when he realizes just how good Conor is becoming and realizes if he took his own advice maybe he’d have what Conor is experiencing.
Sing Street is essentially a coming-of-age film set in the ’80s which Carney says is inspired by his own youth. Some may criticize Carney for being a one-trick pony as this is his third film (Once and Begin Again being the first two) focused on music. It might be the only trick he knows. However, Sing Street is more than just a coming-of-age film. It’s the joy of creativity and the payoff of doing something you love. There are very few films I find myself completely involved in to where I lose myself in my surroundings. In a completely empty theater, I found myself with tears of joy in my eyes and left happier knowing this story exists even if it were fictional. So, even if Carney only knows one trick, it’s a magical one.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Perfect Casting
The biggest name attached to Sing Street is Aiden Gillen who plays Conor’s father. Gillen’s lengthy credits as a character actor are likely longer than the rest of the cast’s credits combined. Despite their limited resumes, everyone (and I mean everyone) shines in their roles. There isn’t a misstep amongst the casting.
- Spot On Soundtrack
The choice of 80s music synced with the original tunes the band delivers are excellent. Honestly, I’m not a big 80s music fan yet the songs plucked for the film fit so well with the movie and do so much to legitimize the original work.
- Banding Together
Some of the best scenes are when Conor and the most musical member of the group Eamon (Mark McKenna) collaborate to make songs. These usually are sparked by a conversation Conor has with his brother or an interaction Conor has with Raphina but the way these two become friends and trusted partners is a beautiful moment.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- I’d Have to Make Something Up
There’s nothing even small to pick on here. I had to hold myself back at 3 “Pros” because there were so many things to like about this film.