Sing Street (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes


Sing Street (2016)

Directed by John Carney • Written by John Carney.

With Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor and Aidan Gillen

Dublin, 1985. Conor is a bright 15-year-old boy with a turbulent family life, who starts a band to capture the attention of an enigmatic girl he likes. To add conflict to his raging hormones, he’s bullied at his new school by fellow pupils and tutors. Luckily for him, his impassioned older brother is on hand to guide him through the world of pop music, as he sets his sights on becoming the new Simon Le Bon.

Written and directed by John Carney, Sing Street is a musical-comedy-drama dedicated to “brothers everywhere”,that speaks powerfully about being young and in love, but also about the importance of friendship, originality and the semi-parental responsibility of being an older sibling. Of Carney’s most notable films to date, the other two being Once and Begin Again, this a welcome return to familiar ground as together with the central character, we witness the songwriting evolution of music overlapping with the core central narrative. With Carney’s films, we get an album and a film at the same time.

Making his screen debut in the central role of Conor is Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, whose quiet intelligence could easily be mistaken for shyness. Despite being humiliated in public by the school bully, repeatedly threatened and physically abused by the head of the school, Conor is an inquisitive, good-hearted soul who isn’t afraid to take a plunge. His forward-thinking attitude sets him apart from his peers, and, it also allows him to meet Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a Desperately Seeking Susan type (she even looks like Madonna on the poster) who becomes his muse.

Walsh-Peelo is excellent, playing the aspirational, yet unseasoned teen with a keen understanding. As Raphina, Lucy Boynton encapsulates the embodiment of a beautiful, tortured soul in need of a new path. Conor’s fascination with her gives way to romantic moments that bring sparkle to the sedate surroundings. In the spirit of the classic romantic fairytale, theirs is a relationship we want desperately to succeed.

As Conor’s older brother and mentor, Jack Reynor brings a range of humour, warmth and a touch of that indiscernible essence of ‘happy-sad‘. It’s a big performance, sat in the middle of the film – Conor’s lifeline for doing the right thing between his band and Raphina. In one scene, he reassures Conor by saying – “No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins.”

As we know from his previous work, Carney writes the original songs for his films. With Sing Street, his songs are cleverly adapted to show Conor’s influences; Hall & Oates, The Cure and Duran Duran, to name just a few. It’s all of utterly charming, inspired and  funny, especially when the band decide to turn their first song, The Riddle of the Model, into a music video complete with thrown-together wardrobe overhaul, heavy make-up and borrowed New Romantic stylings.

By the end, don’t be surprised to find yourself chasing down people in the street to recommend Sing Street to. It is an utter delight, poured out entirely from the heart and sprinkled with magic. It’ll make you want to laugh, cry and sing-along at the same time. 5/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
This entry was posted in Film Reviews, John Carney and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Sing Street (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. jintsjason says:

    Not the best film of the year, but easily my favorite!

  2. Jenna says:

    Loved this film! I left the theater and immediately bought the soundtrack. It was on repeat for about 2 weeks.

    • garethrhodes says:

      You have great taste, Jenna. I’m doing exactly the same tomorrow. Have you seen John Carney’s other films?

      • Jenna says:

        I’ve seen Once and Begin Again. I thoroughly enjoyed them both (and their soundtracks). But full disclosure: Sing Street is my favorite. I related to it the most and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after seeing it. I was thrilled when Netflix added it to their offering because I’m hoping tons of people stumble upon its magic.

      • garethrhodes says:

        I’m with you, I think Sing Street is his best rounded work to date. While I enjoyed and embraced Once and Begin Again, I didn’t lose myself in the same way. Sing Street has everything going for it. Whatever John Carney does next, I’m there!

  3. This movie is an all time fav of mine

  4. I adored this movie as well. In my opinion, it’s probably one of the best Irish films released in a long time. Plus, the original songs are ridiculously catchy and infectious!

    • garethrhodes says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I knew I’d like it, based on the reviews and Carney’s last two films, but I didn’t expect be quite so swept away by it. Thank you for sharing your opinion here – it’s great to hear from you.

      • Thank you! It was perfectly casted, amazingly scored and brilliantly acted. My only complaint was that I felt that the ending was a little rushed, but other than that, it was sublime!

      • garethrhodes says:

        The ending with the boat, you mean? I want to know how things go in London. Do you think they’ll make a life for themselves there, or is it just another gust of young love, burning brightly before moving on to the next thing?

  5. moviemeal says:

    I really enjoyed this movie, Was very surprised as I wasn’t expecting much, great humour throughout and catchy tunes. Really did show what the Ireland of that time was like.

    • garethrhodes says:

      It’s a beauty, isn’t it!? I feel like starting a religion in its name and becoming one of those door-knocking evangelists, handing out free copies for everyone to see. I’m pretty sure everyone should see this movie. That’s how much I enjoyed it.

  6. The romantic in me likes to think that they’ll make a go of it in their new life together, but who really knows for sure? I like that the ending leaves it open to the viewer’s own interpretation, so that we can imagine what awaits our heroes in London!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Same here. I’m feeling that Raphina is something of a butterfly, and that Conor might struggle to keep her in one place – but then, he seems like a young man who’s going places himself, so maybe they’re the perfect match. I always enjoy imagining my own sequel. Wouldn’t it be cool if Carney revisited the characters in 10-years time…

  7. I’d definitely watch that movie, as I’d love to see Conor and Raphina in the 1990’s! What are your favourite moments from the movie?

    • garethrhodes says:

      I like what Richard Linklater does with his ‘Before’ movies – catching up with characters 9-years later. Why is it that only franchise movies tend to get sequels? My favourite moments were so many – I loved ‘The Riddle of the Model video – laughed out loud at the kid with the vampire teeth in at the end. Conor and Raphina’s relationship was the sweetest thing. And I don’t easily fall for that stuff.

  8. Matt Rhodes says:

    Just watched this. Thought it was great! The songs were really good as well.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Aw, I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it. I highly recommend you watch John Carney’s other films. Begin Again is another little gem. The original songs were cleverly written, in the way they were imagined from the perspective of a 16-year-old Irish kid, influenced by his brother and 1980’s pop. It made me remember how much I love writing songs about characters in films. How amazing that John Carney, directs, writes the scripts AND original music for his films. He’s going to end up with about 15 Broadway shows inspired by his work, by the time he’s done. Great to hear from you on here. Looking forward to your next review.

      • Matt Rhodes says:

        I very much enjoyed the relationship between the brothers in the film. I’m also very impressed that John Carney wrote all the music, what a talented guy, I’ve had the songs in my head all day. Cheers bro, i’m enjoying WordPress 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s