Film Review: Sing Street

After the recent glut of all-action blockbusters and super heroes, it’s time for a change – and Sing Street is exactly the antidote we need.  It breezes into cinemas on Friday, certificate 12A, complete with a soundtrack that’s pure nostalgia.

London Mums’ resident film critic, Freda Cooper, goes back to the 80s and the land of vinyl …….

The story

When his parents can no longer afford his private education, teenager Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has to change schools.  This is mid-80s Dublin, knee deep in recession, and his parents’ marriage is noisily crumbling before his eyes and ears.  His sister’s in college and his older brother Brendan has dropped out of college to do very little.  Conor’s new school is rough, he doesn’t fit in and needs an escape.  Then he becomes fascinated with would-be model, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), pretends he’s in a band to impress her and has to form one when she calls his bluff.


The trailer



The verdict

The film comes from director John Carney (Once, Begin Again) and he’s back to doing what he loves most: making a feelgood film where the music plays an important part.  This time he’s also on his home territory of Dublin, specifically Synge Street.  Or, as the band call themselves, Sing Street.

His stock in trade is showing how music can lift lives out of the ordinary and turn them into something special, and that’s precisely what he’s doing here.  So it’s idealistic in its outlook and, despite all the main characters being teenagers, it’s also innocently romantic in a very charming way.  But only up to a point.  Because he also takes care to include some reality checks.

There’s Conor’s parents, constantly at loggerheads: his father can’t get a job, his mother is down to three days a week and the lack of money is the final straw.  No wonder the boy escapes into his band and his adoration of the glamorous Raphina.    And then there’s the idyll of the young couple leaving Ireland for Wales, in a little power boat and in brilliant sunshine.  It’s just 30 miles across the water but, a few miles out, they hit a storm, all choppy waters and lashing rain.  They’re soaked and nearly run into the main ferry.  It’s not so romantic now.




The soundtrack is terrific.  Music from the 80s like The Jam, Duran Duran and Joe Jackson, but there’s more – the band’s own songs.  They’re all composed by Carney and sung by Walsh-Peelo and it’s almost impossible not to strum your fingers along to them.  Nor can you resist the way Conor changes his dress style to match the band’s musical phases.  Initially, he’s a terrible singer, but gets better with each song and remains the front man.  The other main man in the band in Eamon (Mark McKenna) who plays a multitude of instruments – guitar, keyboard, drums, just about anything – and, outside of music, is obsessed with his rabbits.  Even when they do what they shouldn’t on his bed.



London Mums’ rating: 8/10

If you remember Alan Parker’s The Commitments (1991), this is the teenage version, complete with fresh faces and an attitude to match.  While there’s nothing very new here, it really doesn’t matter, because it all fits together perfectly in a way that engages the audience to the point of entrancing them.  You’ll leave the cinema with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.


Sing Street is released in cinemas on Friday, 20 May and is reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 19 May 2016.

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