The third bullseye in the Brooklyn/Room Irish invasion currently taking place, Sing Street is the most joyful and charming of the three. (You might pick up on my enthusiasm during the below Sunday Indo review).
BETWEEN Once (2007) and Begin Again (2013), director John Carney has shown that when it comes to dramatising music’s power in bringing an emotional vocabulary to our lives, he’s the best in the business.
Sing Street, however, marks a considerable hike in the serotonin levels of the Dubliner’s oeuvre and will become forever known as one of Irish cinema’s resounding feel-good staples. Unashamedly 80s-nostalgic and positioning itself somewhere between The Commitments‘ salt-of-the-earth Dublin beat and a John Hughes teen romance, it leaves a joyous, soft-centred taste in the mouth.
Conor (newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) stands out like a sore thumb when his parents (Maria Doyle Kennedy and Aidan Gillen) move him to the inner-city Synge Street Christian Brothers school. Distraction arrives in the form of the lovely but cool Raphina (Lucy Boynton). To get her attention, he does what boys have always done to win a fair lady: he starts a band.
Up goes the notice board ad and soon a gas crew of young misfit musicians (all unknown actors) is assembled. At home, meanwhile, Conor is schooled in the musical canon by stoner brother Brendan (Jack Reynor, on fire). Fashion senses and musical styles evolve in tandem as the soundtrack to Conor’s life (Duran Duran, Hall and Oates, The Cure) harmonises with his changing romantic fortunes. A glorious and irresistible teenage dreamscape opens up before our eyes.
It’d be nothing if Carney didn’t slow the rhythm and let the pulse of young love, and indeed brotherly love, shine through. Between this and the soundtrack – penned by Carney and Gary Clark – expect to be charmed to tears between the bellylaughs.
A classic, and yet another durable blossom in Irish cinema’s current purple patch.
First published in the Sunday Independent