4 out of 5 stars
In 1985, things were tough all over Ireland, especially for the Lalor family. Due to the tight financial times, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has been told by his parents that he will be pulled out of his current school to attend the local state sponsored school, Synge Street Christian Brothers School. Even though things are tough at the new school, it gives him a refuge from his current home situation. One of the highlights of attending Synge Street is getting to see the beautiful, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), who lives in a girls home across from the school. She becomes the inspiration for Conor to start a band and she eventually becomes his muse for his lyrical adventure. As his home and academic life deteriorates, his music becomes the bright light for him and the band as they look to escape from the depressing existence in Ireland.
Musicals are not new to cinema, but director John Carney has made career of creating some of the most original films that incorporate music into the storyline. Academy Award winning film, Once (2007 - Best Achievement in Music, Original Song) still ranks as one of the most original modern musicals. Fans of the director have come to appreciate his story telling and his ability to incorporate music to be an outpouring of ordinary people lives. Unlike Once and Begin Again that were modern day melodic adventures, Sing Street is a coming of age journey set in the 1980s. Carny tells Conor’s story with a mystical mix of classic tunes and he adds original material that creates a compelling element to this story of young love and self-expression.
Carney has a knack for finding new acting talent, even though he does incorporate established talent to maintain the overall rhythm of the film. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and his band are a perfect combination of characters that come together organically. This pool of young men have the right chemistry come about through the desire to share the music of their era. This innovative director shows the need for all aspects of the band by incorporating the talent that ranges from the multi-instrumental Eamon (Mark McKenna) to Conor as the charismatic frontman. Lucy Boynton was the right face for the love story and manages to portray the worldly, yet innocent, Raphina with hypnotic accuracy. In amongst this effectively orchestrated cast was the understated and powerful performance of Jack Reynor as the jaded, but supportive brother, Brendan. He provides the support that Conor needs to move towards his self awareness and burgeoning talent.
Fans of the director may dismiss this as a The Commitments knock off, but even with the illusion to the classic 1991 hit, Sing Street is a film that stands on its own as an inventive musical. It provides all of the elements needed for a uniquely nostalgic journey. Well chosen tunes of yesteryear, fresh new talent, familial heartache and young love make this another jewel in the crown of this independent director's musical crown.
REEL DIALOGUE: Have you ever wondered why certain musical groups endure and some fade into obscurity?
A unique mix of characters that just works... Musical talent is important, charisma is essential, endurance is critical, but the thing that truly helps the longevity of a band's career has to be chemistry within the group. Many groups are an odd mix of personalities and talent, but when all know their role and pay it well, that is musical magic. Musical groups are a mere microcosm of a bigger picture of God's design. The intention of those who are followers of Jesus is that they are meant to work in the same manner. All understanding and knowing their role and working well with others to achieve God's plan. When it is done well, his followers can truly make beautiful music with their lives.
Where do you go in the Bible? Romans 12: 4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Colossians 1:18