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I'm a huge fan of the movie Once. When I arrived at South By Southwest,
and saw that John Carney had directed another movie, I have to say I
was a bit skeptical that he could capture the magic of that movie again
without the amazing music and raw performances of Glen Hansard.
My fears were unfounded.
SING STREET is a heartfelt, funny and artful coming-of-age movie set in 1985 Dublin. I'm close to an ideal audience member for this film, because I grew up in the 80s myself, a child of the MTV Generation. I count John Hughes' films and the Cameron-Crowe scripted Fast Times At Ridgemont High among the most influential films of my childhood. They are the reason I became a screenwriter, and why I continue to write movies for a teen audience.
Sing Street truly hearkens back to those great teen movies of the 80s. The best stories about teenagers are rooted in pain and isolation, and this is no different - Connor "Cosmo" Lawler comes from an upper middle class family that has fallen on hard times. His parents have constant fights. His older brother Brendan is a college dropout and his sister, the 'smart one,' pretty much keeps to herself. In order for the family to save money, Connor is transferred to the local Catholic boys school, where he's quickly made an outcast and an example by the authoritarian headmaster.
You could say that this is a movie about forming a band. And this genre of story - of artistic awakening - seems to be replayed quite often in British and Irish films like The Commitments, Billy Elliott, The Full Monty, and others. But those movies each had a unique wrinkle, and Sing Street does too. It's the beautifully told story of the way that the inspiration and inception of the best art is rarely an individual act of genius, but rather, the result of a series of interconnected acts of human desire and emotion.
It's the parents who sentence you to a horrible school; the girl who you long for that won't give you the time of day; the other guys who join your band because they're outcasts too... the brother who loves you too much, and is too angry at his own cowardice, to let you settle for less than your best.
There's also a lot of great humor in Sing Street about the fact that you have to try on the styles of your heroes before you find your own confidence. 40-something audiences will definitely get another level of enjoyment out of all the allusions to great 80s bands. The art direction and costumes are done wonderfully in that respect. But I think this movie will work wonderful for today's teenagers as well.
The movie is by turns funny, heart-wrenching, soaring and surprising. And the musical numbers, while not necessarily Oscar winning, like Once, is great. I'm thrilled that a new generation of teenagers will get to experience the release of a movie that's on par with the films I love so much as a kid.
The movie to beat this summer isn't a superhero movie.Its a movie about a teenager forming a band to try and impress a girl. What a wonderful and beautiful movie this. I was smiling and hugging myself throughout. So light and warm hearted and funny and yet deep and powerful. The Music is amazing even the original songs are fantastic. It is directed by the great John Carney who directed one of my favorite movies about music, Once. This is one of the best coming of age stories I've ever seen. It stands with Say Anything, Stand By ME, Perks of Being a wallflower, The fault in our stars. Please just go watch this movie. Please. I Loved it. ***** out of 5.
I didn't expect such a good movie to be honest. The plot sounded
interesting but when you watch the movie you get hooked in about 10
minutes. The characters are incredible with their own personality ( i
really liked main characters brother , his story was great). The
soundtrack was...oh man...it was incredible and a great addition to the
I believe that this is in my top 3 movies of the year so far and that's why everyone should give it a watch. Trust me you will not be disappointed at all. Its an amazing movie for all ages.
Also the acting is great and the 80s of course give the movie a nostalgic and beautiful tone
I'm happy to grade this movie a full blast 10. I was a teenager in 1985
in the last private Catholic Boarding School left in Mexico City. I
relate to the strict uniform policy, the angry and imperfect young
Catholic brothers still guessing their vocations, the old professors
teaching materials for yester years, the canteen food, hiding Walkman
radios and sunglasses, talking about bands across the ocean, the girls
who wanted to be older and the fashion. This is a happy sad movie, that
will keep you tapping and asking why aren't all movies like this. The
script is very very smart, the casting couldn't be wiser. Lucy Boynton
does an amazing job. The art direction is so precise you can imagine
the smell of the flats. The awesome cars. What a great movie!!
Don't miss this!!!
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.
I was a fan of Carney's band the Frames, and was delighted to see his
first low budget film , "Once"
His second wonderful film had a much bigger budget and well know cast, but still a small film. I just loved, "Begin Again" with Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, and Kiera Knightly.
He goes back to his roots with Sing Street and it is simply a joyful experience. It started off a bit slow for me. But as the band that is the focal point of the film hones their skills and improves so does this wonderful story. I just can't say enough about how great the two leads were in this film Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays the male lead Conor, and Lucy Boynton as Raphina were just wonderful. It is a great film to watch if you are having trouble getting your smile on.
As an American I had a little trouble at times with the thick Irish accents. When I watch the CD I may have to stick the subtitles on.I wish the film had a bit of a bigger budget in the sense that it looks like it was made on a tiny budget and musicals are much better when the sound is powerful. But that is just quibbling. Go see this in the theaters, if for nothing else to make sure Carney gets money to keep making films.
I'm a sucker for movies about musicians, and John Carney has already
given us Once (2007) and Begin Again (2013). Now he delights once more
with Sing Street, a tale told with humor, drama, and some pretty catchy
songs, all set in the backdrop of 1980's Dublin.
Yes, Sing Street is set in the 80's so it undeniably lends itself to comic relief as these schoolboys are forced to navigate through hair, makeup, clothing and music video choices along their artistic journey. We get plenty of laughs as we watch them try to forge an identity and look like bona-fide rock stars in this crazy MTV generation. And for good measure, they insert the obligatory Phil Collins joke in the mix.
There is quite a deal of drama as well. We see bullying in an all-boys school, dysfunctional families, the economic hardships of Ireland in the 80's and young people's wish to break out of societal malaise and seek their fortunes elsewhere. I haven't lived in Ireland but the desire to pack your bags and start over in another place is a universal one. Audiences in every continent can relate to that.
The cast is solid and I was very impressed with the leads, especially Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who plays Connor. He can be charming, kind, insecure but out-of-nowhere gutsy which is an accurate depiction of a blossoming musician. After the first hour I began to be doubtful of the character of Connor's brother Brendan for seeming to be too wise for his age, but by the end of the film it all made sense, and Jack Reynor was a fine choice for that role. Lucy Boynton (Raphine) is great as the love interest and mysterious but troubled muse; she packs an emotional performance and probably looks the most natural in 80's fashion, although she didn't quite convince me as a 16 year-old and it wasn't because of all the excess hair and makeup. On the other hand Mr. Walsh-Peelo (Connor) was only 15 when the movie was shot and he's got that boyish appearance. Finally Mark McKenna (Eamon) has such an uncanny resemblance to Julian Lennon it's scary! But a good actor too.
As far as concerns I had only a few major ones but they didn't detract from the enjoyment of the film. First is that the story moves very quickly in the first 30 minutes or so, then takes the foot off the pedal for the remainder. And second, it's a little unrealistic that these kids can write quality songs right out of the blocks. It would have been fun to hear a real stinker when they're starting out. I'm a musician and believe me, our first attempts are pretty bad. That's true even for the all-time best.
There were a few other minor things but they're not worth mentioning. This is a great story, it got all the laughs, cheers and tears in the right places and I would recommend it to everyone, especially those who want to express themselves through art and aspire to greatness. Dream big, all you adolescents. A big thanks to John Carney et al for reminding us of that and making a quality film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's a few days before the end of May, 2016, and the year in film might
already be over as far as I'm concerned. It did not seem that way to me
after the first time I saw this film - the "Mary Sue"-ism of the band's
progress in quality, the strange appearance of a 1987 song in a
1985-set film (Starship's track at the party towards the end - from the
movie 'Mannequin'), me asking myself which characters were responsible
for editing the music video for 'Riddle of the Model' so decently /
well?, and a couple more quibbles. These minor details became less
important by the second viewing, and completely unimportant by the
third and fourth viewings. They were replaced by: the girl that
inspires your work, the work that allows you to ignore your current
circumstances, the "adults", however few they may be, that actually
notice what you're doing and encourage you / help you / are happily
there for you, the friends you make as a result of putting yourself
"out there", the joy of coming up with new material, "who are you,
Steely Dan?", the fantastic storyline with Barry - the 'bully' who is
incorporated into the group as the roadie with M's "Pop Musik" playing
in the background, Brendan and Raphina meeting towards the end of the
film, Eamon's mother (hahah), Flash and the Pan's "Waiting for a
Train", The Cure on a film soundtrack, "Depech-E Mode", cookies between
kisses, and Raphina... and Brendan. When even Adam Levine works
perfectly for the film's ending, you know things are clicking.
On a side note: my profile has my location as San Juan, Puerto Rico, but I did not see this film there... since it has not been shown there, and I unfortunately would not be surprised if it ended up not showing there at all before home video (hope I'm wrong).
On a second side note: while in early high school, we tried to make a music video to compete in MTV's make-a-video contest for Madonna's track 'True Blue'... and failed impressively. Hence my immediately noticing the editing in 'RotM' :)
Greetings again from the darkness. The vast majority of 1980's music
usually inspires nothing but groans and an immediate change of the
radio channel from me. Yet writer/director John Carney masterfully
captured and held my attention with this crowd-pleasing story that
leans heavily on the tunes from that era.
Mr. Carney was also responsible for two previous music-centric movies, Once (2007) and Begin Again (2013). He is an exceptional story teller who puts music at the center, but avoids the label of "musical" by making it about people, rather than notes.
It's 1985 in economically depressed Dublin, and a strong opening sequence introduces us to Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) as his ever-arguing parents (Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy) inform him of the economic necessity of pulling him out of prep school and enrolling him into a much tougher environment one that comes with bullies and hard-nosed teachers/clergy.
Soon enough Connor is hanging with the misfits and inviting an enchanting "older" girl to star in his band's video. She agrees, and wide-eyed Connor quickly sets out to form a band that didn't previously exist.
There are two interesting and fully realized relationships that make this movie click: Connor and the enchanting Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and Connor and his older brother Brendon (Jack Reynor). Brendan is Connor's life mentor and music guru. They are quick to jump on the new world of music videos, and it's a real hoot to watch Connor emulate the style and fashion of Duran, Duran, The Cure, etc.
It's fascinating to note that Connor, while a pretty talented lyricist and singer, doesn't really seem to be in love with the music except as a means to an end a way to get the girl. That said, the real message here is that while teenagers often feel like they can't fix the outside world (parents, teachers, bullies), they can fix themselves by finding a passion in life (the movie uses the term vocation).
It's hard not to notice the influence of such filmmakers as John Hughes and Cameron Crowe, and Carney certainly brings his touch of romanticism. Plus, one must appreciate any movie that delivers an original song as catchy as "Drive it like you Stole it", while also taking a shot at Phil Collins. It's a funny and sweet movie that should really catch on through positive word of mouth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sing Street is another of director John Carney's sweet and entertaining tributes to musicians and love following the magnificent Once and the appealing Begin Again. Sing Street is perhaps ultimately the most endearing of the three films as it follows young Conor ( Ferdia Walsh-Peelo in an exceptional film debut) as he forms a band with fellow outcasts at his Dublin Catholic school and as he attempts to woo Raphina (the lovely Lucy Boynton), who appears in the group's music videos. Sing Street sets its action in the 1980s, the glory era of music videos and modern pop music. The film treats the vintage music used throughout with fond remembrance, and it is a true joy to hear blissfully wonderful songs by Duran Duran, Hall and Oates, Spandau Ballet, Starship, Genesis (even if the song is dumped upon by other characters), and The Cure. While this music is sensational, what really helps Sing Street to become a must-see is its wonderful ensemble cast (Jack Reynor is a true force of nature in the role of Conor's older brother, Brendan, who has made mistakes that he wants to save his younger brother from making), its appealing story, and brilliant new songs that feel like the 80s are back again. Walsh-Peelo and Boynton have great chemistry together, and their scenes together are funny, honest, and sweetly poignant. Likewise, Walsh-Peelo is also convincing in the scenes involving his interactions with fellow band members. Of the new songs, "Up" is a great power anthem, "The Riddle of the Model" has a good avant-garde approach, "Girls" and "Brown Shoes" are both solid, "A Beautiful Sea" is wonderful in the little bit of it that is heard, "To Find You" is a moving ballad and very poignant, Adam Levine's closing song "Go Now" is terrific, but the true standout song is the high-energy "Drive It Like You Stole It". This song, an extremely catchy and bouncy concoction that sounds like some of the best 80s pop, is staged in a fantasy sequence that serves as a homage to Back to the Future, and the scene is filled with so much joy and poignancy that to watch it is to be reminded that it is for scenes like this that we go to the movies in the first place. The ending of the film too is magnificent, a lilting end to a truly marvelous film. Sing Street is definitely one to savor.
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