FlixChatter Review: Sing Street (2016)

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Ahhhh… the 80s. Duran Duran, A-Ha, Spandau Ballet, The Cure, etc. I grew up with the bands featured in this movie, which adds the enjoyable quotient tenfold for me. I discovered John Carney a bit late as I saw Begin Again first a couple of years ago, then rented Once after that. I absolutely loved both of them, though Begin Again felt a bit more Hollywood given that it’s got bigger stars like Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, so I’m glad he returned to his Irish roots in his latest.

Set in Dublin in the mid 80s, Sing Street‘s tagline says ‘Boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band’ and the movie is exactly what it says on the tin. The boy is Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a 15-year-old boy who turns to music to escape his strained family life as his parents are going through a divorce. It’s certainly a story anyone can relate to, I mean we’re all teenagers once too. It’s especially tough when teens have to switch schools and that’s what happens to Connor when he’s sent to an inner-city public school to save money. That’s where he meets the mysterious girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton) with big dreams of becoming a model in London.

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The whole process of Connor and his new pal Darren forming the band is such a joy to watch. Of course being a movie it all feels fairy-tale-ish how it came together, but it’s got such an infectious charm that got the whole theater in a jolly mood. The boys in a band have such quirky personalities, one of my fave parts was in Eamon’s (Mark McKenna) house when he showed off his abilities to play multiple instruments. But all of the music videos they’re filming are such a hoot, as the boys assumed different personas of famous bands from that era. I think my fave look is when the boys were rockin’ the guyliner and teased hair inspired by The Cure. The young actors (except for Boynton who I had seen in BBC miniseries of  Sense & Sensibility) are all unknown. In fact, this is 16-year-old Ferdia’s acting debut, though he had stage and opera experience. The fact that the actors did their own singing certainly adds to the authenticity of the story.

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All the musical performances are definitely the highlight, though there are poignant moments throughout. Kids get bullied in school from fellow students and strict teachers (which I could relate to as I went to an all-girl Catholic high school) and of course, dealing with the broken heart of first loves. The romance between Connor and Raphina is sweet despite being rather mawkish at times. I think the relationship between Connor and his down-on-his-luck older brother Brendan (played affectingly by Jack Reynor) is more memorable. Connor looks up to Brendan who teaches him all there is to know about rock ‘n roll ‘No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins.’ Ha! Yet in a way, Brendan also lives vicariously through his naive-yet-driven younger brother and in the end was inspired by him.

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I had such a blast watching this movie, in fact it’s one of the most joyful films I’ve ever seen. This is apparently semi-autobiographical for writer/director John Carney and it’s the perfect love letter to the 80s and the power of music. For anyone who’s used music or other forms of art to escape the harsh realities of life will be swept away by the infectious optimism of this movie. The way he integrates music into the storyline is unlike any other filmmaker working today. I definitely will do a Music Break post with my favorite tunes from the movie. In fact, I was listening to the songs as I was writing this review and can’t wait to re-watch this movie again.

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Have you seen ‘Sing Street’? Well, what did YOU think?

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31 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Sing Street (2016)

  1. I saw this movie last weekend and absolutely loved it. The soundtrack is great. I enjoy dancing around my apartment to “Drive It Like You Stole It”. I was on the verge of tears multiple times throughout, mostly due to joy with how cute and sweet it was.

    1. Hello Steven! I LOVE pretty much all of the songs, but my absolute fave is the slower one UP and To Find You. I just love 80s music!

    1. Indeed Michael! If you love 80s music, and I know you do, this is a must see… and listen to! Such a joyful movie too, can’t wait to buy the dvd!

  2. I saw Once the movie after I saw it and loved it on Broadway. Wasn’t as enthused with Begin Again but I’m looking forward to this one.

    1. I think this one is my new fave from Carney, followed by Once and Begin Again. Glad to see him return to his Irish roots w/ this one.

  3. As someone that was born in the 1980s and loved a lot of that music from that period (I hope to see the Cure later next month as it will be my first show of theirs in 16 years), I really want to see this.

    1. Oh man, you will just fall in love w/ the music Steven! I’m a bit older than you as I was born in mid 70s but I grew up listening to 80s music! I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on rotation since I watched it.

  4. I enjoyed the feel good vibe of Begin Again, there was a lot to like about it and some of the songs were memorable for me. Nice to hear that Carney’s follow up is a blast, looking forward to watching it.

    1. Hi Eddie! I like Begin Again though I’m not a fan of Adam Levine. This one feels more personal and even more emotionally-resonant to me. I love that he cast mostly unknown actors, but the kid in the lead role is amazing!

  5. This definitely sounds like something I’d be into, I love almost anything that involves creating a band. There was a great movie from a few years ago called We Are The Best, Swedish flick about three girls who start a punk band. This sounds like it has more layers to it though. I wonder when it’ll be available online

    1. Hey Jordan! If you love stuff about creating a band, you’ll enjoy this one immensely. The way the two boys went door to door to find bandmates are hilarious! The music is soooo fun and addictive, I’ve been listening to them nonstop. I’m an 80s kid so that automatically made me enjoy it even more.

      Ooooh now I’m curious about ‘We Are The Best’ esp since it’s a girl’s band!

      1. Yeah, We Are The Best is great great fun Ruth. If you can be bothered, this is what I thought of it back when it was in cinemas: http://wp.me/p4P9IW-5h

        I just checked, this is coming out here in July =/ Hopefully its available to stream before then, it sounds like I’d really like it

        1. Oh my, it’s not out until July?? Well, I hope you do get to see it at the cinema Jordan! It’s really a lot of fun and the music is wonderful I keep humming it for weeks!

          1. I think I will see it thanks to your review. Its just a pain, it happens at least once a week that I find that a movie isn’t coming here, or isn’t for a long time. My latest big gripe has been Green Room =/

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  10. Hi Ruth. I finally saw Sing Street and am now finally catching up with reviews of it (I also wrote my own!). It’s no surprise that they’re really positive across the board. I’m a huge fan of Once (especially) and Begin Again, so this was right up my alley. I also found a lot to like from the relationship between Conor and his brother, especially with all the turmoil with their emotionally absent parents. The music was so fun too!

    1. Hi Dan! Glad to hear you loved this one too. I actually saw ONCE after Begin Again, love them both. I think this one might be my faves as it’s more comedic of the three, but still with some genuine emotional touches.

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