Prepare to smile and sing along like a complete dork; John Carney’s Sing Street is joyful, cinematic heaven.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Sing Street travels a path well trodden; we open with 15-year-old schoolkid Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) idly strumming his acoustic guitar to drown out the sound of his parents fighting downstairs. It turns out that they can no longer afford to send Conor to his posh private school, instead enrolling him at a crummy public school run by the overbearing Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley).
It’s here that Conor meets a whole range of colourful characters, including the enigmatic girl who hangs out by the school gates, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), who Conor one day invites to star in his band’s new music video. Of course, in order to achieve this, Conor must actually start said band. Dubbed Sing Street, Conor and his desperately uncool friends start writing originals that riff on everything they see on Top of the Pops; Duran Duran, Genesis, The Jam and so on. Along with increasingly fleeting fashion phases, Conor and the crew’s hapless attempts at ‘finding their sound’ become increasingly difficult whilst also navigating the pratfalls of high school and the looming reality of adulthood.
Writer/director John Carney has a lot of fun remaking his tearaway youth during which he played bass guitar in Irish pop group The Frames. The shabby streets of 1980’s Dublin are lovingly recreated, as are some of the more outlandish outfits of the era. Costume designer Tiziana Corvisieri is given free reign to play with flyaway hairstyles à la The Cure or Adam Ant-inspired trench coats, making for a great visual gag that builds through the film.
Jack Reynor is practically unrecognisable as Conor’s stoner older brother Brendan; his dank haircut and thick Celtic brogue adding to a fantastically layered supporting performance. Likewise Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy impress as the embattled parents who fail to see Conor’s unfurling talent.
Sing Street peaks numerous times throughout the tight 106-minute runtime, but chief among them is a cathartic Back to the Future-esque daydream that won’t fail to bring a smile to your face.
Sing Street might be telling a tale as old as time itself, but through a string of catchy musical numbers and a talented ensemble, it transforms into a euphoric, triumphant ode to adolescent love and heartbreak. Having fine-tuned the formula through his past work on Once and Begin Again, Carney delivers his most accomplished and confident film yet in Sing Street.
If you’ve ever picked up an instrument and sucked, Sing Street is for you; if you’ve ever loved someone beyond all logical reason, Sing Street is for you. But, most importantly, Sing Street is for anyone who has ever been young, bright-eyed and had the world at their feet. It’s incredibly mawkish at times, but Carney’s insatiable screenplay is hideously uplifting. Rarely is a coming-of-age tale executed with such burning passion, gentle nostalgia and wry wit. It’s an absolute must-see for fun-loving film and music fans of all ages.
Sing Street is available in Australian cinemas from July 15
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films