When Sing Street was released in May 2016, it flew very much under the radar, surrounded by much bigger and louder releases. Since then, this little movie has been discovered more and more, especially on Netflix. If you haven’t found it already, you’re really missing out.
Director John Carney (of 2007 drama Once, and 2013’s underrated Begin Again), returns to Dublin and his youthful heyday of the mid-80s, where Sing Street delightfully spins its warm and uplifting charm. Heavily influenced by early-mid 1980s acts like The Cure, Duran Duran and Culture Club (whose songs appear in the soundtrack), this movie continually speaks to the heart, through its comedy, its drama and its wonderful music.
The story follows 15-year-old school boy, Conor Lalor (Ferdia Walsh Peelo) in Dublin, Ireland in 1985. Connor is doing his best to deal with a tense family relationship, as well as trying to find his place within the hostile environment of a new public school. Everybody is moving to the beat of Pop music, as the exciting new concept of the music video appears on television for the first time.
At home, Connor’s parents (Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) argue loudly, about money, their kids and their marriage. Whilst older, college drop-out brother Brendan (Jack Raynor), passionately introduces Connor to revolutionary bands of the time, encourages him to push himself musically and to never follow the status quo. Brendan is perhaps a representation of Carney himself, who has described Sing Street as “wish fulfilment of all of the things I wanted when I was the age of the character and didn’t do.”
At Synge Street Christian Brothers School, Conor is the new kid, he quickly has run ins with the principal (Don Wycherly) and the school bully (Ian Kelly). However, he soon makes a friend named Darren (Ben Carolan), and is quite taken by a mysterious girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who lives across the street from the school.
In a bid to impress Raphina, Conor decides to form a band, and he and Darren set about recruiting other members, with the goal of casting her in future music videos. The development of the band is both great comedy and drama. As the natural awkwardness of the teenagers discovering life, is juxtaposed with Conor’s progression as a musician with the help of brother, Brendon. Throughout the bands journey, genuinely great original songs are written, excellent homages to iconic bands of the era are made and note-perfect amateur music videos are created.