Director: John Carney
Us folks in Ireland (North & South) had the opportunity of seeing “Sing Street” a couple of months before everyone else. The director, John Carney, has previously proved to have a knack of making music work on screen in a way no-one else quite seems to have been able to, from his features “Once” and the hugely underrated “Begin Again”, so could he pull it off a third time?
The answer for me, having seen it twice now, is an overwhelming yes. My favourite film of the year so far, this manages to combine “Gregory’s Girl” “The Commitments” and a dash of “Submarine”, yet come out feeling entirely fresh. The cast is uniformly excellent, with Ferdia Walsh-Peelo in the lead in what is unbelievably his first screen role, perfectly capturing that mix of teenage awkwardness mixed with an “anything is possible” innocence. Lucy Boynton, as our hero’s object of desire, channels Claire Grogan , but gets to flesh out her character with more screen time, and Jack Reynor, so good in “What Richard Did”, frankly steals every scene he’s in – you hope Carney might go and make a film about his character next. But, like Bill Forsyth, (and there aren’t many director’s whose name I can mention in the same breath as him), Carney also gets excellent work from his supporting cast – everyone gets their chance to shine. By now though, you’ll have noticed that the film lacks star names – unfortunately, that may make it a hard sell, as you can’t imagine any of the cast doing the rounds on the chat show circuit. One can only hope that word of mouth will eventually help it find the audience it deserves, though I notice as I write that it’s hovering outside the US Top 10 so anything’s possible.
There are hints of darkness in the film that are vital to the work but never capsize it into melodrama or “gritty realism”, yet never feel token either, quite a trick to pull off. The mid-80s setting is perfectly evoked, without it being laid on with a trowel.
Does the band the kids form in the film get a bit too competent a bit too soon? Yes.
Are the songs they write a bit too good for essentially a bunch of teenagers starting out with entirely no musical direction? Absolutely.
Does the ending seem a bit implausible? Maybe.
Do I care? Not a jot.
This is a film about people looking to escape to a better life however they can, and about the demons that stop some doing it until it’s too late. The movie will lift your heart and make you wish there were a few more like it around.
Did I mention it’s really funny too?
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Once, Begin Again, The Commitments, We Are The Best!, Gregory’s Girl, Submarine, School Of Rock, Bandslam (the last one according to Mark Kermode as I haven’t actually seen it).