Sing Street

Directed By: John Carney

Starring: Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

2016 has been a hard year for music aficionados of all genres.  We've lost a lot of legends this year.  The names are iconic to say the least.  David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Phife Dawg, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, and many others have transitioned to the next life in the last several months leaving legacies that will endure for years to come.  This weekend, the shock of the Purple One's passing is still fresh.  Prince, arguably more so than many of the others I've mentioned already, will be remembered as a towering figure in the world of pop culture and an artist emblematic of the 1980's. As sad as I am to see these icons depart this world, I'm even sadder for those of us who remain.  With the passing of each of these artists, the world of music has become a little less creative and a little less authentic.  They left big shoes to fill, and the next generation isn't trying to fill them, not one bit.  All that being said, John Carney's Sing Street couldn't have had more perfect timing.  This ode to 80s rock is a reminder to all moviegoers that music can enable us to freely explore and express ourselves in ways that challenge conventional wisdom and norms.

It's 1985.  Conor "Cosmo" Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peeloas) is growing up in Dublin with his family.  His parents Robert and Penny (Aidan Gillen & Maria Doyle Kennedy) bicker incessantly.  Lately, they've been arguing about finances for the most part.  They've come to the conclusion that they need to cut educational expenses.  Since their eldest son Brendan (Jack Reynor) has already graciously dropped out of college of his own volition, Cosmo is next up on the chopping block.  He gets moved from the fancy school he currently attends to a cheaper Jesuit school called Synge Street.  Though led by the prickly Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley) who has a strict black shoe policy, Cosmo's new school offers a much less refined environment and many more social pitfalls for the 15 year-old.  When neighborhood girl and aspiring model Raphina (Lucy Boynton) catches his eye, Conor decides to say just about anything to get her number, including saying that he's in a band making a music video and is in need of a model.  From there, Sing Street is born.

I rarely recall occasions in the movies when I just want to get up and dance.  I'm not talking about tapping my feet or bobbing my head.  I'm talking about a genuine desire to just get up and move to the groove.  Begin Again was one of these occasions nearly two years ago.  Now, Sing Street is that movie this year.  The common thread between these two movies is the man in the director's chair, John Carney.  Like Begin Again, Carney's love for music is on full display here in this film focused on rock in 1985 Dublin.  Taking on multiple duties writing both the screenplay and original songs, he crafts one delightful film that takes us back a few decades with some old school jams.  He really delivers some catchy tunes that serve as an ode to the 80's in a sugary but enjoyable way.  Not surprisingly, I found myself downloading the soundtrack once the credits came to a conclusion in my screening of the film.  All in all, Sing Street is my new favorite movie.

There's a case to be made that Sing Street is somewhat autobiographical.  From a bit of quick research, it just so happens that John Carney is Irish and was raised in Dublin.  It's also the case that he was born in 1972, which means he was a teenager circa 1985 in this very city.  What's most compelling is the fact that he attended Synge Street CBS, the very school depicted in the film.  Given that he is a former bassist for the rock band The Frames, it would come as no surprise if Carney's love for music began to blossom during his time at Synge Street in the 80's.  With all this in mind, there's a certain authenticity to his depiction of Dublin at this time because he's lived and breathed it.  You can see it in the costume and set design that are intended to evoke that era.  You can feel it in the rebellious spirit he channels throughout the film in his lead characters.  You can hear it in the vibrant songs he writes that are emblematic of the artistry that defined that era.  Yes, Carney gives Sing Street a personal touch given his own history in Dublin, and it pays big dividends.

Though lacking originality at times, Sing Street is an infectious film that will have you dancing out of the theater.  Carney and his cast are firing on all cylinders.  Have some wine coolers with this one because Carney nearly hits a home run with this lovable film.  Sing Street gets a strong 0.03% rating.