Following his writing and direction on Once and Begin Again, Irish filmmaker John Carney has established himself as a force within the musical comedy genre. He returns with rebellious flick Sing Street, set in 1980s Dublin. Due to the economic difficulties, Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is transferred from posh school to comprehensive, and struggles to fit in to his new regime. When he spots mysterious girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton) lurking on a street corner donned in sunglasses and style, he tells her that he is the singer in a band in an attempt to impress. To follow up on his little white lie, he brings together new friends including the witty and wise Darren (Ben Carolan) and jack-of-all-trades musician Eamon (Mark McKenna) to form Sing Street, a play on words taken from their school’s name.
The tagline on the poster reads ‘boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band’ and the film stays true to this conventional, paint-by-numbers plot. However, the familiar structure is decorated with a wickedly dry sense of humour throughout as well as a plethora of catchy pop songs, both original tracks written for the movie and classics from the likes of The Cure, The Jam, Duran Duran and more. Walsh-Peelo is solid in the leading role, but its outshone by his college dropout older brother Brendan, played by Jack Reynor. Brendan wants the very best for Cosmo, and wants him to dodge the mistakes he has made, and this offers a subtle dark shade to the story which gives it an interesting underlying subtext.
Sing Street is a hugely enjoyable feel-good film, with likeable, memorable characters and amazing music to boot. With the hefty backing and production of the almighty Weinstein brothers, director John Carney creates a cinematic love letter to 80s Ireland, injecting his own experiences and signature flair to the genre that he continues to flourish in. Rebelling against authority and playing by its own rules, the film takes on the same qualities and attributes, good and bad, of the angsty youngsters at the helm. Witty, awkward, and full of teen spirit.