Movie Review | Sing Street

The latest movie from director John Carney, known for his musically-inclined movies like the award-winning Once (2006) and Begin Again (2013), with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, is Sing Street, which tells the coming-of-age story of Connor, played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, a teenager living in 1980s Dublin, Ireland who starts a band to deal with his dysfunctional family life.

You may recognize Aidan Gillen who plays the father, as the conniving Little Finger from HBO's Game of Thrones, and Maria Doyle Kennedy who plays the exasperated, adulteress mother, from Orphan Black and Downton Abbey

As the parents' marriage crumbles along with their financial situation, Connor is pulled out of private school to attend the Sing Street public school. Amid bullying from students and staff, Connor notices the mysterious Raphina loitering on the stoop across from the schoolyard, with her teased bouffant hair, sunglasses, and cigarette dangling from her red lips. Raphina is only a year older, but seemingly years more mature, and in order to impress her, Connor declares that he is in a band and they need a model for their music video. Much to his surprise, she accepts his job offer and he sets off to form his band.

A charming and earnest motley crew is formed, including an original hipster prototype with big glasses and high top jeans who has an odd attachment to rabbits, a pint-sized, precocious red head as the group's manager and the only black kid in Dublin in the 1980s. Motivated by his desire to impress Raphina, Connor (now dubbed Cosmo as his stage name) writes songs influenced by bands his cool older brother suggests, like Duran Duran, The Cure and The Police. As his friendship with Raphina grows to something more, so does his confidence and Cosmo becomes a formidable leader of the band of misfits and eventually stands up to those who are taking advantage of him. 

Though understandably predictable for this genre, Sing Street is nevertheless an uplifting and heartwarming semi-autobiographical story of a boy who manages to find happiness despite the despair in his life. His passion and spirit inspires the other boys in the school to achieve more than their lot in life and his relationship with his siblings grows stronger as they look to each other for support as the family unit as they once knew it begins to grow apart.

Without a doubt, the movie has a great soundtrack of both original songs and classic songs of the era. It was amusing to witness a scene in which Cosmo and his brother are regarding the music video for Duran Duran's "Rio" in awe of it's innovation and creativity, while today we would laugh at the cheesiness of it. U2's Bono and the Edge partnered with Carney in the film to not only provide music supervision suggestions but also wrote the original songs of the fictional band. The songs hold their own and are also excellent representations of the 80s new wave style. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Sing Street on the docket again to be nominated for Best Original Song, like other Carney films before it,

Sing Street is set to be released later this year and is an inspiring and entertaining addition to music-based film offerings.

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