‘Sing Street’ Review

Directed by John Carney

Written by John Carney

Starring: Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

★★★

“Sing Street” is John Carney’s coming-of-age story told through a sweet love story and a bitching 1980’s soundtrack – everything from Motorhead to Duran Duran, how often are Motorhead and Duran Duran together? Never. The simplest explanation of the plot of “Sing Street” is contained in the movie’s tagline, “Boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band.” You know the reason many teenage boys start bands. Like his previous work, “Once” and “Begin Again,” Carney delivers another home run music film. While the music film can be considered a subset of the musical, there is a difference between a musical and a music film. A musical contains musical numbers that are dependent on narrative. For a certain number to happen the plot needs to unfold in a certain way. A music film, however, includes songs that are not reliant on the narrative. The songs can exist within any narrative context.

The highlight of “Sing Street” is the music. By the music, I am not just talking about the 1980’s soundtrack; I am talking the half-dozen or so original songs written for the film. The amazing thing about this songs is that they simultaneously sound period accurate to the mid-1980’s and – save for “The Riddle of the Model” – contemporary. The best way to describe these songs is that these are the best songs that Duran Duran or Hall and Oates never wrote. The songs in this movie are good songs, and considering “Sing Street” is about teenagers who start a band you would think that the songs would be teenage garage band quality. Two songs, “Drive It Like You Stole It” and “To Find You,” stand out among all the other songs. One or both of these songs could be nominated for the Best Orginal Song category at the Academy Awards, and I am hoping to see “Drive It Like You Stole It” get the nomination. If some band somewhere were to have written “Drive It Like You Stole It” they could have had a hit. That song is a hit.

Aside from the outstanding music “Sing Street” was a well-crafted movie. The love story opens with an excellent blason shot of Lucy Boynton, who plays the love interest, and even includes a funny quip about men who like the music of Phil Collins. The band story was fascinating in the way that Sing Street – also the name of the band – incorporated all the influences of popular music floating around the UK in the mid-1980’s. Both of the stories are blended to tell a subtextual coming-of-age narrative. This subtext throughout the movie gave weight and substance to the other stories being told in the movie. As Conor –  the film’s protagonist – grows and develops through his relationship with Raphina and the various events throughout the movie, his music becomes more mature and sophisticated. The way that Carney was able to blend the surface story with the greater subtext of the film was extraordinary.

“Sing Street” is one of the best movies released so far this year, and will most likely stand as one of the best of the year. It will take a lot to displace “Sing Street” from the best of the year list, but then again it is only May. Because Carney’s previous films “Once” and “Begin Again” were both nominated in the Best Original Song category at Oscar’s, with “Once” going on to win the award, I would be willing to bet that you will see “Sing Street” with at least one nomination in that category.

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