Maybe you’re living in my world. I’m not living in yours. You’re just material for my songs.
It’s not often I review films that are out at the cinema, infact it’s exceptionally rare, with only three examples that I can think off of the top of my head, but I have just got back from watching “Sing Street” and noticing it’s low amount of votes on IMDB, I decided that it’s still obscure enough to review.
Again, I don’t often review mainstream films that are released at the cinemas, but I get the feeling that this won’t have much of a market outside of it’s native Ireland, and therefore I’m taking a punt and reviewing it. Obviously I could be completely wrong, and I hope in many ways I am because this is a fantastic film.
Anyway, time for the review….
In the mid 1980s a lot of people are emigrating from Ireland to England to prosper, however, Conor (Walsh-Peelo) and his family aren’t going anywhere. His parents are arguing constantly due to restricted finances and because of this, Conor has to change schools and go to the local catholic establishment. There he is soon targeted by bullies, both in terms of other students and the faculty.
After being beaten up by one of the bullies, he is befriended by Darren (Carolan), and he soon notices a girl standing on the opposite side of the street that he is attracted to. He braves it and decides to flirt with the girl, Raphina (Boynton), an aspiring model. During the conversation Conor tries to impress her by saying that he has a band and would like her to appear in the video. She agrees, but now Conor has to actually create a band from scratch.
He does so with the help of Darren, as well as the musically talented Eamon (McKenna), and various others. As time goes on, the group becomes highly competent, but Connor’s relationship with Raphina takes several unusual twists and he soon questions whether it’s worth the effort.
So why worth the review?
Being an 80s kid, I love the music from that era, and this film genuine feels like a throwback to a time that ended nearly 30 years ago. The songs are fantastic and catchy, the characters are likable, the development is pretty much spot on, and the three-act structure is well used throughout.
So let’s start with the music, the central point of the film, and for me, it was music that definitely fitted into the era pretty well, albeit with an obvious modern twist. I have seen some other reviews, including one or two personal friends, who didn’t like the film, nor it’s soundtrack, but I think is definitely a film for anyone who is over a certain age, and probably won’t appeal to a lot of people, but songs such as “Drive It Like You Stole It” not only sound like they would belong in the 80s, but would potentially be successful today.
The characters are interestingly written as well, and seem to capture the era quite well, especially when Darren uses a racial slur to describe a potential new band member, and genuine seems to not know it’s an offensive term. This was at a time in history where racism was still relatively common place in the UK and Ireland, with numerous footballers of a non-white origin regularly getting abuse on the terraces.
Visually the film looks appropriate for the era, although not being Irish I can only compare it to the way the 80s looked in England, with the haircuts especially reflecting the era. For example, the character of Eamon sports a haircut that is bordering on a mullet, as well as Conor’s attempts to redefine his look to match his musical heroes.
But for me, the best part about the film isn’t someone who is in the band, but rather the character of Brendan, played by Jack Raynor. Brendan is very relateable due to his desires of escaping his mundane life, only to get trapped and feeling like he has no way out. It’s how most late teens/twentysomethings that haven’t achieved anything feel, and he just shows how you can turn out if you depend on music and don’t have a back up plan.
His is just one of a number of different issues tackled by the films, and despite being what is ultimately a musical romantic-comedy, it touches on a lot. Themes of bullying, divorce, ambition, depression, rejection and friendship. It’s rare to get a film that covers so many different themes, and it’s nice to see a smaller film make such an effort.
There are a few issues with the film though, the first of which is arguably the more important and that is that everything seems a little effortless. The band are just good right from the off, something which is highly unlikely. The school and the local area just happens to all of the musicians that they could want, all of whom know straight away what they’re doing. There is seemingly no bedding in process, they’re just a cohesive unit right from the off and there isn’t really a struggle.
And the same can be said for the relationship between Conor and Raphina. It never really feels like Conor has to really do a lot to get with Raphina. In some ways I liken the relationship to that of Scott and Ramona in “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, i/e a shy, socially awkward guy suddenly becomes attracted to an outsider and gets more than he bargained for, but unlike that relationship, you never really feel like Conor and Raphina aren’t going to end up together.
My only other issue is that some members of the cast have very strong Irish accents, which don’t get me wrong, I expected going in, but there are occasions where I couldn’t catch what was being said.
Other than those minor issues, “Sing Street” is very enjoyable.
“Sing Street” is an enjoyable coming-of-age romantic comedy that explores more films than your average Hollywood blockbuster. Although the band members don’t really seem to face any struggle at any point in terms of forming a band and making songs straight away (I’d be really curious how long this film is supposed to take place over), you are behind them all of the way.
With catchy songs throughout, the atmosphere and feel good factor is there for all to see and here, and considering that this is my first exposure to Irish films (that I’m aware of), it’s left me wanting more.
Definitely watch it if you have a chance.