Tuesday 13 December: Sing Street (12A)

Ireland  –  Comedy, Drama, Music  –  Year: 2016  –  Running time: 106 mins
Language: English

Audience response following the screening of this film: Rating: ★★★★½ (4.61 from 41 responses)

  • ‘Excellent’: 28 votes
  • ‘Very Good’: 10 votes
  • ‘Good’: 3 votes
  • ‘Satisfactory’: 0 votes
  • ‘Poor’: 0 votes

Read the comments here or visit our “Sing Street” discussion page.

Sing Street2Synopsis:

A new musical comedy set in the Dublin of 1985 and a loving homage to the 80s, full of in-joke cultural references to the period, its music and fashion. Funny, boisterous and joyously uplifting, it is full of infectious musical set-pieces, telling the story of a new kid, Conor, at an inner-city school  who  desperately needs to be in a band and whose life is complicated not only by a dysfunctional home life, but also falling for the beautiful unattainable Raphina.

A sweetly funny, charming and poignant depiction of this very specific time in life – at once universal and specific – when anything seems possible. And with killer pop tunes to boot.
Katie Walsh (LA Times)

Director: John Carney
Begin Again (2013) / Once (2007)
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo             …   Conor
Lucy Boynton                      …   Raphina
Jack Reynor                       …   Brendan
Mark McKenna                    …   Eamon
Aidan Gillen                         …   Robert
Maria Doyle Kennedy         …    Penny
(for full cast, and more information, see “Sing Street” in IMDB)

CFC Film notes:                              (click here for printed version)

John Carney admits that he will probably always be known as the director and writer of Once and later Begin Again.  With Sing Street he completes a triptych of musical films, and now doesn’t want to make another one!

Sing Street is set in 80s Dublin.  Carney has said that the 80’s were Ireland’s 60’s because in the 60s Ireland was totally controlled by the church and teenage individualism (or free love) was just not possible like it was in London.  Throughout the film, music is used to communicate emotion, stand in for conversation and express ideas that cannot be conveyed any other way.  The youngsters were cast with non-professional actors which Carney found a considerable responsibility he has said.

sing-street-3It is Dublin 1985 and Robert Lalor as the father has various problems – financial, marital, alcohol and smoking.  To ease the family’s financial problems he proposes to remove his youngest son from his fee paying school and send him to Synge Street CBS (Christian Brothers School).  Once there Conor faces his own problems which bring him into conflict with the school principal Brother Baxter and he also attracts the attention of the school bully.  For Conor however the most significant encounter is a meeting with the beautiful Raphina.

To impress her, he tells her he needs a model for a music video he is making with his band.  Of course he doesn’t have a band, which leads to emergency action added and abetted by budding schoolboy entrepreneur Darren.

The band’s repertoire begins with 1980’s covers, but once this has been rubbished comprehensively by Conor’s elder brother, the boys move onto writing their own songs. Carney was emphatic the music written for the film had to be first rate rather than simply sound 80’s like so Gary Clarke was commissioned to write original tracks.

The film tracks both the band’s development and the “romance” between Conor and Raphina.  It is also to some extent autobiographical in that Carney and his friends had a school band and shot their own videos in Dublin.  (He also had a friend who kept house rabbits like Eamon does and a bullying Catholic brother teacher.) Carney wanted the action to also have a universal aspect – hence the brother theme.  (Please note the dedication at the end of the film.) “Anyone can have a sibling, an uncle, aunt, or a cool older person who supports and guides your dreams.”

The 80’s music was something he felt the cast could identify with as it was likely to be the music their own parents had grown up with.  The film has drawn comparison with The Commitments, School of Rock and even Son of Rambow.  Carney can see where these comparisons come from but says they were never in his mind.

Throughout the film he manages to avoid sentimentalism by ensuring that like any band its music evolves and the characters grow with it.  He does allow himself an escape into a triumphant dreamscape but there is always a return to having 2 feet firmly placed on the ground.  However he admits that the ending is almost a fantasy sequence to him as the two would be escapees are still just kids, not mature adults and this is a film about teenagers.

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Sing Street3Selected UK reviews:

New Statesman (Ryan Gilbey)
The Observer (Mark Kermode)