Sing Street Review - Entertaining and Engaging, Four Stars (U2 Front Man Bono Adds Quote)

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Sing Street, from The Weinstein Company, brings to the screen a charming and hilarious trip in time to 1980’s Dublin, when music was the scene and big hair and a bigger sound became the catalyst that changed everything.

Directed and written by John Carney, Sing Street stars Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aiden Gillen, Jack Reynor and Kelly Thornton with Ian Kenny, Karl Rice, Percy Chamburuka, Mark McKenna, Ben Carolan, Lydia McGuinness, and Don Wycherley.

Sing Street begins as Conor, played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, is experiencing his first day at a new school. And it isn’t a good one. Bullied by the local dim wit; he is struck in Catholic Boys school, having had to transfer as his family was feeling the pinch.

With day one over and ending in disaster he hooks up with another outsider, who gives him the lay of the land, at Synge Street School. Smarter than most of his classmates and quick on his feet, Conor sees, a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina, played by Lucy Boynton.

Against the advice of his new found friend, Conor approaches Raphina and as she offers him a bit of truth, he decides the only way to win over her heart is to ask her to star in the video his band is shooting.

There is one small snag in his plan to win over Raphina with his band: He doesn’t have one! He knows no musicians and has never sang.

So the two, Conor now Cosmo, and Larry, played by Conor Hamilton, are off knocking on doors to find anyone who can play anything in the local neighborhood. Stumbling on Eamon played by Mark McKenna, the boys have the beginning of a band. Posting a notice at the school, the found the rest of their group and soon they are making music.

As Raphina believes she is working for an established band, the boys show up each in their own version of Rock Star wardrobe which is a combination of Boy George and The Village People. A make-up artist, Raphina makes them camera ready and soon our garage band has recorded a video.

As the path to true love never did run smooth, Conor is facing the deterioration of his home life. As he continues to work out his band’s sound with brother, Brendan, played by Jack Raynor, life outside the house is progressively better than life inside as his parents, Penny, played by Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Robert played by Aidan Gillen, are heading for divorce.

School, as Cosmo evolves into the front man for his band becomes turbulent as he is challenged on all sides. His decision to stay true to his new found love in hopes of securing Raphina’s affection is costly.

Raphinaremains a mystery. Her life centers around escaping the Liffey, the neighborhood where they all live. Her much older boyfriend has a car and the two speed off on evening to the tunes of Phil Collins and a sad Cosmo on his bike watches as his heart drives away.

Dejected at this particular development, Brendan, the wiser older brother with an album collection and an encyclopedic knowledge of the songs housed in each, explains as Cosmo replays the life altering moment scene in his mind cheers, no women will ever stay with a man who listens to Phil Collins.

As fate would have it, Romeo ditches our Raphina leaving her abandoned in London and she makes it back to the Liffey, believing that coming home, even to the familiar is the worst possible ending. 

Dublin, for the most part is ruled by the Catholic Church, with its very strict guidance to life and family. In the 1980’s it was more difficult for married families to leave the rigid reins of the church and for individuality, which is very evident in the school scenes also.

Conor’s parents, Penny and Robert, struggle to find an easy way to modernize their feelings to allow for conclusions that would have at one time shunned them from friends, families and church,

Like all families during divorce the kids want their parents to work it out, fix it, the same is true here as Brendan, the pot smoking, cool, oldest, Cosmo, and their sister Ann, played by Kelly Thornton.

Sing Street builds to the crescendo when the band believes they are ready and decides they are going to share their sounds with everyone who has ever made their lives hell. It is a wonderful success, of course. Sing Street takes the kids from their inner city life, to the world in their mind, toward the plan, the dream, and Raphina, who tried and believed she failed finds romance brings her a second chance. 

From U2 Front Man Bono

"I remember the 1980s with somewhat of a blush. No man's hair should be bigger than his girlfriend's. But that was the time. Dublin in Technicolor. In reality it was monochrome and in the grip of a recession, But on video tape, you could be transported. You could wear what you liked, and the more outrageous the better. Anything to wind up the jackbooted skinheads on Dublin's north side. Make-up on a boy drove rockers wild, and the teachers wilder. Thank God for Bowie, who made all the black eyes okay. And allowed people to find out who they were. My brother gave me the gift of music through my first guitar. We formed a band. In truth, at the same stage, U2 were not as good as the kids in Sing Street. In truth most films you'll see this year won't touch Sing Street..."

Director John Carney has captured a time that is remembered by those living in Dublin with a wave of warm nostalgia.

Sing Street is a toe tapping explosion of sights and sounds as the 1980’s erupts on the screen with big hair, big voices, new looks and the next wave of the British Sound.  Entertaining and engaging, Sing Street is one of the best films of the year. See it!

Sing Street is playing in select cities. Check local listings. 

Images courtesy of The Weinstein Company and used with permission. Quote from Bono provided by The Weinstein Company and used with permission.

 

 

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