Friday, 22 July 2016

Film Review: Sing Street

Prepare to smile and sing along like a complete dork; John Carney’s Sing Street is joyful, cinematic heaven.

Sing Street travels a path well trodden; we open with 15-year-old schoolkid Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) idly strumming his acoustic guitar to drown out the sound of his parents quarrelling downstairs. It turns out that they can no longer afford to send Conor to his posh private school, instead enrolling him at a crummy public school run by the overbearing Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley).

It’s here that Conor meets a whole range of colourful characters; entrepreneurial redhead dweeb Darren (Ben Carolan), bespectacled rabbit enthusiast Eamon (Mark McKenna), skin-headed bully Barry (Ian Kelly) and the enigmatic girl who hangs out by the school gates, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), who Conor one day invites to star in his band’s new music video.

Of course, in order to achieve this, Conor must actually start said band. Dubbed Sing Street, Conor and his desperately uncool friends start writing originals that riff on everything they see on Top of the Pops; Duran Duran, Genesis, The Jam and so on. Along with increasingly fleeting fashion phases, Conor and the crew’s hapless attempts at ‘finding their sound’ become increasingly difficult whilst also navigating the pratfalls of high school and the looming reality of adulthood that casts long shadow over their breezy teenage years.

Director John Carney has a lot of fun remaking his tearaway youth during which he played bass guitar in Irish pop group called the Frames; the shabby streets of 1980’s Dublin are lovingly recreated, as are some of the more outlandish outfits of the era. Costume designer Tiziana Corvisieri is given free reign to play with flyaway hairstyles à la The Cure or Adam Ant-inspired trench coats, making for a great visual gag that builds through the film. The original tracks, written and composed by Carney and Gary Clark, are all great in their own way, but the shamelessly fun ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ is the musical highlight.

Jack Reynor is practically unrecognisable as Conor’s stoner older brother Brendan; his dank haircut and thick Celtic brogue adding to a fantastically layered supporting performance. Likewise Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy impress as the embattled parents who fail to see Conor’s unfurling talent.

Sing Street peaks numerous times throughout the tight 105-minute runtime, but chief among them is a cathartic Back to the Future-esque daydream that won’t fail to bring a smile to your face irrespective of whatever plagues your personal life. It’s a captivating vision that commands your attention, a slice of pure, escapist movie magic that is perfectly crafted.

Sing Street might be telling a tale as old as time itself, but through a string of catchy musical numbers and a talented ensemble, it transforms into a euphoric, triumphant ode to adolescent love and heartbreak.

Having fine-tuned the formula through his past work on Once and Begin Again, Carney delivers his most accomplished and confident film yet in Sing Street. The unquenchable enthusiasm of the youthful cast affords this film an undeniable gawky charm that rings true for all the outsiders and the oddballs who’ve ever set foot in school.

If you’ve ever picked up an instrument and sucked, Sing Street is for you; if you’ve ever loved someone beyond all logical reason, Sing Street is for you. But, most importantly, Sing Street is for anyone who has ever been young, bright-eyed and had the world at their feet. 

The Verdict: 9/10

It’s incredibly mawkish at times, but Carney’s insatiable screenplay is hideously uplifting. Rarely is a coming-of-age tale executed with such burning passion, gentle nostalgia and wry wit. It’s an absolute must-see for fun-loving film and music fans of all ages.

Sing Street is in cinemas across Australia now

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out. 


  1. Great review! I loved this almost as much as you did. The 80's styles and themes put me off at first (I was raised in the 90's) but once I let that go I absolutely fell in love :)
    - Allie

    1. 80's, 90's, 00's - it's all good if you ask me :) Thanks for commenting Allie!

  2. Great review. I was afraid that Carney had lost a but of that magic when he decided to lose his mind about Knightley, so it's good to hear this is his best yet.

    Though, honestly, I don't see how anything ever rivals Begin Again. Impossible!

    1. Yeah those comments were a bit out of place huh? I'm gonna put it down to a guy just sticking his foot in his mouth and having a momentary brain fart.

      I'll have to go back and revisit Begin Again to double-check haha ;)

  3. Glad you liked this one. It's still my favorite film of 2016 so far.

    - Zach

    1. It's up there for me too - Top 5 for sure.



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