Thursday, May 12, 2016

[Review] Sing Street

He's given us the modern masterpiece Once and the enjoyable Begin Again. Now, director John Carney tunes up with another music-driven film, appropriately titled Sing Street. And it's likely the most delightful film of the year.

Set in Ireland during the mid-80s, a young kid named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) transfers to a strict Catholic school where the students are about as well-mannered as a bunch of barbarians. Right away, he gets bullied and then befriends a snappy little fella named Darren, who went through the same thing. They form an impromptu Duran Duran/Depeche Mode-inspired band for fun, and more importantly--to impress a mysteriously cool girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton).

Of course, the band is "shite" when they first begin. But you know what? They eventually become pretty dang good. As standard for Carney films, there's a great soundtrack, complete with new material from Sing Street (that's the band name) as well as classics from The Jam, The Clash, and The Cure... The catchy moments of music are pure bliss, and the references produce comedy as Sing Street loudly draws influence from each act. My personal favorite instance is when Conor listens to a Cure record for the very first time, and the next scene sees him showing up at school with messy goth hair and all black attire.

The folks who populate this flick are so endearing. Conor is a solid frontman, but Raphina steals the show. The "manic pixie dream girl" term will be tossed around, but there's nuance and depth, and it's a terrific performance of an intriguing character anyway. Conor's older stoner brother could've risked being an obnoxious stereotype, but he's surprisingly well-developed considering his secondary amount of screen time. And yes, even the bully gets a bit of an arc!

This is undoubtedly a bright film, but it also brings some pathos into the mix. Conor's parents are on the verge of splitting. His crush is getting ready to ditch the foster home where she lives in order to run away with her sleazy boyfriend. The priest at Conor's school is a killer of self-expression and is physically abusive. All of this culminates during a whimsically poignant sequence while the band is rehearsing for a gig and Conor drifts into a dreamworld where he imagines everything in his life going right.

Sing Street is a triumphant ode to the irresistible power of music and wide-eyed youthful rebellion. It's a life-affirming ballad about taking risks and following your passion. The story elicits scenes that will put a huge smile on your face and make your heart weep, just like the best melodies always do.

* 10/10 *