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.