Every so often, a movie comes along that is so uplifting and inspiring, we — the audience — leave the theater grinning from ear-to-ear, feeling a kinship with our fellow moviegoers because of what we’ve all just shared. Sing Street is that movie.
It is the quintessential coming of age tale of a young man, the girl he digs, and the music that moves him. When Conor — played by the delightful new kid on the block, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo — is faced with the challenge of starting at a new school and dealing with the turmoil of a less than ideal home life, he finds happy distraction in aspiring model, Raphina (Lucy Boynton).
To win the affections of this bewitching babe, Conor asks her to be in a music video his band is shooting. Conor doesn’t have a band. Conor is a cheeky, brazen fella who we could all learn a thing or two from.
Determined to birth a band in a hurry, Conor and his cute-as-a-button, hard-as-nails buddy turned band manager, Darren (Ben Carolan, who is all red curls and braces and 1000% adorable) get right to work. Darren introduces Conor to his bunny-loving musician friend, Eamon (Mark McKenna) — who is the player of all instruments in existence.
Things get off to a bit of a rocky start, but Conor’s ever-so-cool big brother, Brendan (Chris Pratt doppelganger, Jack Reynor), sees his younger brother’s immense potential and does everything he can to encourage and support Conor, who is able to bring the outfit together fairly seamlessly.
1980s Ireland wasn’t the most progressive place when it came to new music and what was hot at the moment, but Conor & Co. are a persistent lot. Their songs and music videos are gritty and rough around the edges, but endearing and incredibly catchy. Much like the works of Duran Duran, A-HA, The Cure, The Clash, and Hall & Oates, to name a few.
I am unabashedly enamored with everything about this movie and I had the very good fortune of being present for a Q&A with Writer/Director John Carney, that darling Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and actual jack-of-all-trades Mark McKenna.
Carney has an affinity for bringing music to the big screen as seen previously in his films Begin Again and Once. In fact, Carney teamed up with Gary Clark to write Sing Street’s original tunes. The songs mimic the music of the decade but utilize their own unique voice to give the makeshift band, aptly named Sing Street, a toe-tapping, addictingly innocent vibe that works almost too well. Hell, I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since I saw the movie days ago.
Ferdia spoke about his two older brothers with whom he’s quite close. Both of them are musicians and, much like his older brother in the movie, inspire him to pursue music if that’s his passion. His mother is a singer as well, so it really runs in the family. He mentioned that before Sing Street, the itch to act was never something he had. Since Sing Street, he says he’s been bitten by the acting bug and thank goodness! He’s quite good!
McKenna’s character isn’t much of a departure from his natural demeanor off-screen. He’s a bit soft-spoken, but it turns out he really does play all of the instruments he played in the movie and then some!
The real treat of the night, outside of dancing in my seat throughout the whole show, was a short musical performance of a couple of the original songs from the film by Walsh-Peelo and McKenna!
The message of this movie is one that makes me giddy and hopeful. To quote lyrics from the original song Drive It Like You Stole It, “This is your life, you can go anywhere, you gotta grab the wheel and own it, and drive it like you stole it.”
Go see this movie. It’s funny and touching, witty and bold. It’ll take you through a full range of emotions but it’ll never leave you hanging. The performances are sublime. The kind that not only make you believe in the characters, but become emotionally invested in their adventure. It’s perfection top to bottom.
John Carney, if you’re reading this, please keep doing what you do. It’s magic.