Movie Review: Sing Street
Sing Street (M, 106 mins) Directed by John Carney ★★★★ Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett
John Carney has already made the musicals Once and Begin Again.
And your tolerance for those two films is going to tell you immediately whether or not you'll enjoy Sing Street.
Personally, I like the way Carney writes a song and tells a story. He takes all that is risible and daft about musicals – the never answered question 'where's the music coming from?' being the most obvious example – and turns it on its head. Carney writes movies about people who happen to be musicians. They might burst into song a bit more often than every actual musician I know, but at least we can see these people strumming their own notes and bashing their own keys.
* Director John Carney apologises to Keira Knightley for slamming her acting
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Sing Street is set in Dublin in 1985. A family are financially falling to bits in the face of the recession, so young Conor is packed off to the rough neighbourhood Catholic Brothers school for his final year of state education. Bullied, miserable but basically indomitable, Conor meets a beautiful girl – Raphina – who is a year and a lifetime older than he. Seizing on the only line he can think, Conor offers Raphina a role in his band's new music video. Now
all he has to do is start a band.
Sing Street is every against-the-odds musical ever made, but set against an authentically gritty backdrop and with a couple of pretty good '80s pop-pastiche tracks to keep the soundtrack humming along.
The film also features a couple of – hopefully – career launching performances. Ferdia Walsh Peelo plays Conor with a lovely mix of vulnerability and insouciance, while Mark McKenna fills out the all important role of 'Conor's best mate' superbly well.
I truly hope Sing Street gets seen by a couple of decent casting directors, because these two, along with co-star Lucy Boynton, are the real deal. Even in its lumpiest moments, or when the ending slides into that very genre-specific mix of the inevitable and the credulity-snapping, the young cast at the heart of Sing Street kept me completely on side.
Previews of Sing Street are being held in selected cinemas this weekend before the film opens nationwide on June 30.