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During the music video they film in the school, Cosmo mentions the movie Back to the Future. However, Sing Street is based in 1985 and Back to the Future was not released until 20 December 1985 in Ireland. With the time frame of this movie and no indication of him seeing Back to the Future during this time, it makes no sense for him to be aware of what it is. See more »
When you don't know someone, they're more interesting. They can be anything you want them to be. But when you know them, there's limits to them.
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One of the disclaimers in the closing credits: "This is a period film. Synge Street School, like much of Ireland, was a very different place in the 1980's than it is now. Today Synge Street School is a progressive, multi-cultural school with an excellent academic record and a committed staff of teachers." See more »
There's nothing quite like the creative process. We've all had that feeling; unfolding with all its frenzied excitement, malleable thoughts and brainstorms and inventive problem-solving. Yet creativity isn't just limited to what music you make, what stories you write, what paintings you paint. Flexing the limits of your creativity is almost like a window into your identity. Do you look for the easy fix, do you power through despite mental blocks, do you try the unexpected or bend towards an originality or an universality. So it goes with Sing Street, a movie that expands the notion of creativity itself, making an unabashedly and irresistibly charming film.
Conor Lalor (Walsh-Peelo) and his family live in a charmed dwelling overlooking the urban sprawl of South side Dublin. Due to financial strain, Conor is informed that he's being taken out of his private Jesuit high school and being transferred to a public school nearby. At first, things go miserably. He's hassled by bullies, called names openly in class and harangued by the school's principal Father Baxter (Wycherley). His only solace is watching new wave music videos with his older brother Brendan (Reynor). Things change however with the appearance of the mysterious and strikingly beautiful Raphina (Boynton) who stands on the stoop outside the school. He approaches her and asks her to be in a music video; she agrees. Next step: start a band.
Conor quickly makes friends with a gaggle of outcasts from the school in order to haphazardly start, build and maintain a fledgling little group. Among them is the multi-talented Eamon (McKenna) who can not only play multiple instruments but can put Conor's lyrics to song. It is the moments between these two young artists that best exemplifies the movie's central theme. We share with them the 4am feeling of unbounded imaginative bliss as they riff off each other, clean up their chords and rhythms and ask each other the meaning behind the songs they write. Because of Eamon's father's vocation as a covers band leader, the band not only has a place to practice but instruments to play which benefits the rest of the players as they develop their sound.
Conor uses his band not only for the purpose of wooing the girl but also as a means to escape his increasingly turbulent home life. The marriage between his mother (Doyle Kennedy) and father (Gillen) circles the drain as his dropout brother smokes hash and oozes cynicism and unrealized potential. In one moment of investigation, Brendan points to the mother who sits on the stoop, smoking a cigarette, hoping to catch the last rays of sunshine of the day. With big talk of some day going to Paris, the mother settles on these moments to sulk in bitter reflection. "I cleared a path for you." Brendan says in a moment of defeat. Seems his carefully curated collection of vinyl and his grimacing observations serve as a counterpoint to encourage Conor's brazen dreams.
Yet it's the girl who pushes Conor to the point of unique creative verisimilitude. And as the would-be model that captures the heart of our young hero, Lucy Boynton is an absolute vision. She coyly hints at gigs and glamour in London yet she lives at an all girls boarding house and dates a guy who listens to Genesis. Yet despite outward moments of confident sashaying, behind the makeup and denim there beats the heart of a true romantic and a true creative conduit. "When it comes to art, you never go halfway." she says just after she throws herself into the Irish Sea for the sake of a good video. This moment is immediately followed by Conor responding in kind.
And yes this movie is about a new wave band in the 1980's, so yes there is a lot of hair, makeup, posh scarf wearing and mod style bravado. While today we like to take potshots at the synth-pop aesthetic, there's still something utterly charming about the way it is presented here. Is it nostalgia; probably. Yet there's an unawareness to it, allowing the audience to discover (or re-discover) the trappings of 80's popular music in real time. The excitement Brendan and Conor feel in watching Duran Duran's Rio music video is infectious, and the original songs by the band are easily the best thing about Sing Street.
Conor eventually finds a since of identity within the catchy rhythms of his songs, the jejune charms of Raphina and the kindliness of Brendan's brotherly love. The moments of kitchen sink realism serves not only as a cautionary tale to Conor but to us as well. When we refuse ourselves the rewards of creativity we risk becoming embittered, angry and resentful. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "Go into the arts. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow." To put it another way, go create something.
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