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Film Review: Sing Street


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There are a handful of films that come along and fill you with pure joy - you know the ones. They’re the ones that stick, which you inevitably watch over and over and love everything about them. John Carney brings us such a film, possibly his best yet.

And that’s saying something, this is the man who brought us the brilliant Once and the less good, but still solid Begin Again.

Going back to his native Ireland, he sets this film in the 1980s and we follow young school boy Cosmo (wonderful newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) as he’s taken out of private school by his feuding and broke parents (Maria Doyle Kennedy and Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen) and placed into a bully-filled public school for the first time. He quickly falls for the mysterious wannabe model Raphina (a scene-stealing Lucy Boynton) and forms a band in order to impress her.

It’s a fairly straightforward story made all the richer by the hilarious and goofy musical moments as the boys in the band discover classic 80s music and looks, constantly changing their appearance as they find their own sound. The original songs are remarkable, and bound to become hits. It wouldn’t be surprising if Sing Street spawned a musical of its own, like Once before it.

A film so inherently set in the 80s that it brings a dash of nostalgia and wonderment, even to those who never experienced the decade for themselves.

A love story at its core, the film’s true heart lies in the relationship between Cosmo and his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), a stoner and drop-out who once had big dreams of leaving Dublin but never quite made the plunge. He seeks to help his younger brother not make the same mistakes and teaches him all about rock and roll and the horrors of Phil Collins. Their chemistry is incredible, and some of the sweeter more touching scenes are due to the phenomenal acting Reynor projects through the camera lens.

The thing that is most striking about Sing Street, aside from the kick-ass music (seriously have a listen beforehand, ‘Drive it Like You Stole it’ is a tune), are the incredible performances this young cast gives. When we’re first introduced to Cosmo and Raphina, she seems much older than him; her clothes and make-up are made to suggest that she carries herself like a much older woman, when the reality is she’s only a year older than Cosmo. By the end, Boynton’s performance has transformed the character so much so that the actual age difference between the two actors is virtually invisible (Boynton is five years his senior). Although she may appear a caricature of the musician’s muse, a manic pixie dream girl of sorts, this swiftly changes as her performance delves into the character and reveals more about her.

Carney directs layers of subtlety in his actors; serious and moving topics are hinted at but never explicitly dramatically delved into. Paedophilia and abuse are present in the story, as a grounded reality in these character’s lives. You can choose to be affected or to take their lead and move on.

Not enough good can be said about Sing Street, its music, or its performances, it’s a film that won’t be soon forgotten.

Sing Street is out in UK cinemas now.

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