It’s not all superheroes, explosions and gun battles at the movies these days. Out now on DVD from Ster Kinekor is Sing Street, a charming coming of age tale with an extra dose of 80s musical nostalgia.
From Once writer-director John Carney, Sing Street comes across like a hybrid of The Commitments and Spud. Set in impoverished 1980s Dublin, Sing Street focuses on 15 year old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), whose home life is in turmoil. With finances strained, he ends up at a rough inner city school. Encouraged by his college dropout brother (Jack Reynor), 80s experimental pop becomes Conor’s escape. Truthfully he’s only getting into music to impress a girl, wannabe model Raphina (Lucy Boynton), but in forming a band with other outcasts at his school, he develops confidence, formulates plans for his future and just generally grows up.
Right, so admittedly Sing Street doesn’t sound particularly original. And it isn’t. However, what Sing Street lacks in plot originality, it makes up in charm. The young actors are likeable, the soundtrack – especially original music by Conor’s band Sing Street – is very strong, and the Irish setting is novel. This isn’t a world you get to see often on-screen, and it refreshes a colour-by-numbers story with its regional idiosyncrasies. Best of all, it never strains to be quirky.
Personally, I would have preferred if Sing Street spent more time developing supporting characters like Conor’s reticent but gifted songwriting partner Eamon (Mark Mckenna), but the movie keeps a tight focus on its lead, and his experiences.
More importantly, Sing Street has a lot to say about the power of artistic creation, and the life upliftment that comes from just plain trying. Even if you’re not good at something. Some of the best scenes set up a visual contrast between what’s in Conor’s imagination and what the reality of the situation is. That can make Sing Street bittersweet at times, but mostly the movie aims for feel-good and optimistic – and it hits the mark.
Of course, your ultimate enjoyment of Sing Street will depend on how easily you let your walls of cynicism drop. That, and how nostalgically you view the Eighties, and Eighties music. The film does just enough though with its winning mix of ingredients. Worth your time if you’re looking for a lightweight something to get you smiling and singing along.
Last Updated: November 2, 2016