Directed by John Carney
Released April 15, 2016
John Carney makes films about music. The Irish writer-director first hit it big with “Once” in 2007, which followed two people sweetly singing at each other and took home an Oscar for Best Original Song for the unforgettable “Falling Slowly.” In 2013, he made “Begin Again” with Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, which expanded its scope to a full-on band of musicians and was also nominated for an Oscar for its original song “Lost Stars.” Now, Carney has made his first film to be nominated for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes, a very Irish story of childhood and music and the way the two go together.
Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) lives in Dublin in 1985 with his brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) and his parents Robert (Aidan Gillen) and Penny (Maria Doyle Kennedy), who, struggling to make ends meet, decide to move him to a state school called Synge Street CBS. There is little about this new place that appeals to Conor, including the requirement to wear black shoes that he does not own, and he quickly becomes distracted after he meets the alluring Raphina (Lucy Boynton) and hastily scrambles to form a band so that he can spend time with her and feature her in the music video he claimed his band was making. Conor transforms into an entirely different person guided by his love for music and his efforts to impress the girl he likes.
This is a film that relies heavily on its 1980s setting and takes full advantage of all the rich music and culture it has to offer. The film also presents a number of original songs, performed by the cast, with two of them eligible for the Oscar for Best Original Song, “Drive It Like You Stole It” and “Go Now.” The music is what gets Conor through his miserable experience at school and allows him to take charge of his life, and this is a film that celebrates the enduring power of music and its ability to last long beyond early crushes and youthful obsessions.
“Sing Street” casts debut actor Walsh-Peelo and relative newcomer Boynton as its protagonists, using their energy to great effect in conveying the sentiment of the time and the angst both characters experienced. Gillen and Kennedy, supporting players on “Game of Thrones” and “Orphan Black,” respectively, serve as recognizable faces to anchor a story that is fully defined by its music, which is quite good. A somewhat slow start leads to a far more transformative and evocative second half, and the film goes out on a wonderfully melodic and memorable sweet note.
Saturday, January 7, 2017