Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Kelly Thornton, Jack Reynor
Directed by: John Carney (“Once”)
Written by: John Carney (“Once”)
With two fantastic and unique independent films centered around the world of music, director John Carney seems to have found his niche. With “Once” and “Begin Again,” Carney was able to craft love letters to music, the grind of the industry, and given a place for original songs that have won and been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song respectively. In his latest film, “Sing Street,” Carney returns to his Irish roots with his tribute to the music of the 1980’s.
Stuck in an unpleasant home life, teenager Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) needs an escape. Taking lessons about music from his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), and trying to impress a model, Conor decides to start a band despite no musical background. After playing covers, Brendan talks Conor into start writing his own songs. Through inspirations of life, music, and love, Conor turns out to be better than expected.
As a story teller, Carney is clearly becoming more streamlined. “Sing Street” is by far the must structurally sound film he has been released thus far, as well as its simplest plot of boy trying to impress girl with music. Where Carney is clearly able to set himself apart is his ability to connect on a deeper, likeable level with catchy songs and connections and bonds though the medium of music.
The film is funny, with a lot of humor coming from the inherent hindsight ridiculousness of the 80’s. Conor goes through all the phases including 80’s hair styles, make up, and most importantly, the construction of the songs. Carney cleverly plays off of these music styles by having Conor listening to a band and being inspired to write similar music. It culminates with a huge fantastical song and dance number to an incredibly catchy song called “Drive It Like You Stole It,” which is straight from the Hall and Oates playbook. Good luck getting this one out of your head.
It’s imperfect and a little straightforward, but the relationships forged through the characters in the film (especially a surprisingly special brother relationship) really elevate “Sing Street” to something special. Music fans will be delighted with the original music, and fans of the 80’s will love to see elements of the culture poked fun at with the most loving of intentions. As a filmmaker, Carney has found his niche and will hopefully continue effectively combining music and film in ways that not many people can.