By Colm McCall
Once (2007) director John Carney’s latest movie-music fusion was deemed by many as being this generation’s The Commitments (1991). With such comparisons to acclaimed predecessors and relatively prominent publicity, this film definitely had something to live up to. If the intriguing trailer was anything to go by, the anticipation levels of the nation were equally high.
Sing Street is a coming-of-age story somewhat similar to The Way Way Back (2013) or The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). Set in 1985 Dublin, it centres on Conor, a fifteen year old schoolboy whose family encounter financial and marital problems. He is taken out of his private education and sent to a working class Christian Brothers run school. Conor finds adapting to his new environment to be somewhat challenging. He finds solace and the possibility of reinventing his identity through music with his newly formed band. Drawing inspiration from then popular bands of the day, along with guidance from his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor, What Richard Did 2012), Conor will do his upmost to woo the girl of his dreams in a bid to escape his now bleak surroundings.
All too often when Irish films are released, people tend to judge them by a lowered standard than by which they would a picture produced stateside. I’m sure most movie fans have uttered or heard ‘it’s good for an Irish film’ at least once. On the flipside, critics on this side of the pond may also view a film more favourably for the same aforementioned reasons. In my opinion, this is a mistake. I shall always view Irish directorial work in the same light as Hollywood kingpins like Martin Scorese or Christopher Nolan. This movie wasn’t just enjoyable ‘for an Irish film’; it was nearly wonderful in all aspects. Nearly.
Not only does it contain catchy favourites from the likes of Duran Duran, it features some of the most infectiously catchy original numbers you’re likely to hear in any movie or show this year- I found myself singing ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ the entire way home from the movie theatre! But not only that, the film is chocked to the brim with heart along with some very witty humour.
The cast is a blend of Irish cinema staples like Aidan Gillen (Calvary 2014) and some new fresh talent, all of whom perform with gusto. My only flaw with the casting is Jack Reynor; I don’t understand the hype surrounding this guy in the slightest. He reminds me of an Irish Jack Whitehall, except not funny. Another flaw which is an aspect probably utilised to draw in American audiences, was the occasionally agenda driven script. In certain instances, some unnecessary explanatory dialogue was employed, making John Carney seem like he was trying a tad too hard to be covertly satirical. However, this probably ought to be considered as a minor glitch on an overall fascinating cinema outing.
Whilst it will likely not achieve the longevity and following of Alan Parker’s beloved comedy, Sing Street is an endearingly entertaining tale which will keep viewers thoroughly invested throughout.
Sing Street scores 8/10 on the MACmeter.