Sing Street Film Review

Film Review by Wal Reid (NZ Entertainment Podcast)

The Premise
A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

The Review
John Carney’s film Sing Street is a joy to watch.  It’s intelligent as it is warming, a pubescent love story with moments of comedic heaven and its heavily entrenched 80s soundtrack. The time warped music features a lot in this film, harkening me back to my misspent Selwyn College punk school days, so it was sure to be a winner.

Sing Street is a cross between Carney’s earlier 2007 hit musical romantic outing Once mixed with the band sensibility of 90’s film The Commitments.  Also set in Ireland, the film focuses on the exploits of young student Conor Lalor, his love interest and his band with school mates called Sing Street, which is kind of a naff band name but appropriate given it’s the 80s.

Set against a stark inner-city Dublin in 1985, Sing Street’s young protagonist Conor broodily played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is moved to a free state-school, this in turn leads to a chance meeting after school with local beauty Raphina played by the spirited Lucy Boynton. Of course, he tells her that he’s in a band (when he isn’t) and invites her to be in his music video – thus begins Sing Street the band and for Conor the ‘game of love’.

The film banks a lot on its success on the eighties culture and music (the family watching a Duran Duran music video on TV is a hoot) however there are some great acting performances that permeate its period subculture that can’t be ignored. Conor’s elder brother Brendan superbly played by Jack Reynor, his unkempt Seth Rogan looks and comedic delivery were spot on.

Ferdia as Conor I found was overall convincing and perfectly casted as the angst-ridden songwriter who pulls together a band with school mates, their originals aren’t bad either (shit, I’ve heard worse at the Gluepot in its heyday) Dad Robert played by Aiden Gillen is a coup, his acting is credible as the dismissive dad, funny too.

Sure it has the cheesy ending, but the film gets away with it, almost unnoticed, due to its strong cast. It’s The Commitments for the 21st century, a love story that’s not as brazen as latest romantic flick Me Before You that seemingly works, and you have to applaud this smaller budgeted film that has been pitted against some big blockbusters and stood its own.

The Verdict
Go see Sing Street, it will have you toe tapping and punching the air as you relive the horror that was the eighties. 

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 30th June 2016
Rating: M – Contains offensive language
Duration: 105 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Mark McKenna
Director: John Carney (Once)

The Extras
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo's (Connor/Cosmos) father and uncles attended the real Synge Street Christian Brothers School.

Mark McKenna plays Eamon: a young talented Irish guy with a musician father. In real life Mark McKenna's father is a musician named Eamon.

While there are similarities to "The Commitments" (including the casting of Maria Doyle Kennedy), director John Carney has explicitly stated in an interview with Tasha Robinson at the online magazine "The Verge", that no homage to that film was intended. He also debunked the notion that the use of rabbits in "Sing Street" is a reference to the character Jimmy Rabbitte in the earlier film. Rather, it was a characteristic of the real-life "Eamon" that he knew as a teenager.

Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

The film takes place in 1985.

Director John Carney said in a recent interview in The Verge that the supposed connections to the film "The Commitments" (1991) are just a coincidence: "'The Commitments' was never a significant movie to me. It's a perfectly good film, and a good script. But it wasn't something that moved me as a kid. I was a film snob when I was that age. I would have steered away from 'The Commitments' when I was 19 or 20, whenever it came out." He says there are rabbits in the film because his real-life friend Eamon kept rabbits, not as a reference to Jimmy Rabbitte.

When Conor first goes to Eamon's home at night to create a song with him, he has three LPs with him. Conor and Eamon play tracks from two of them ("Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson, and "A Town Called Malice" by The Jam), but not from the third LP. That third LP, which can be partially seen on the room's floor: "Reggatta de Blanc", by The Police.