I’m not sure what it is about films that chronicle the creation of a band that make them feel universal, even if most of us could never make a successful go of such a thing. Sing Street not only keeps up that tradition, it will make you want to cheer… or even literally cheer as many did in the theater I viewed it in. It really is an invigorating and uplifting story, though it always teeters on a knife edge till it makes up its mind.
Part of the delight in the film is that the titular band is made of, almost entirely, first-timers. Led by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo the guileless gang pulls together into a credible, if somewhat convenient, group of musicians. The group is wonderfully naive and incredibly fearless… in a word: adolescent. And they capture it beautifully. You’ll be seeing at least a few of these young adults again before too long.
And, of course, there is a love interest made of the nearly unobtainable and broken Lucy Boynton (Life in Squares). Boynton completely nails a young, 1980s woman who has embraced her independence as a way of fixing her life. You know who she is, or think you do, from the moment Walsh-Peelo spots her on the stairs. If, till this time, you hadn’t been quite in the time zone, she embodies the era with costume and attitude in seconds, setting the stage and trajectory of the remainder of the film.
In the background of the band is Walsh-Peelo’s family. Aidan Gillen (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Orphan Black) as the struggling parents and Jack Reynor (Macbeth) as his older brother and partial prophet. There is a reality and cliche to this group, but it still feels right and the performances are honest. They never quite say exactly what you expect nor how you expect them to say it.
Writer/director John Carney (Begin Again) seems intent on portraying the effect of music on the lives and souls of characters at all stages in life. This is his third go-round the idea. The result, this time, is something like the best of John Hughes‘ films, but with a heavy dose of reality and the advantage of distance from the 80’s, allowing a sense of perspective and a bit of wry eye for the period.
To sum up: An entirely entertaining piece with some real rewatchability built in. Go see it and support it while in theaters. If my reaction and the reaction of the crowd around me was any indication, you won’t be disappointed.