“1980’s, Boy Meets Girl, Girl unimpressed, Boy starts band”… Is the tagline for Sing Street and boy oh boy does it deliver. A magnificent debut performance by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who is a musician turned actor playing Connor, who is a teenage boy living in Dublin, stuck in between a family breaking apart, changing to an inner-city catholic public school called Synge Street, yes that is not a coincidence. He turns to music as a voice of self-expression and absolute freedom. Connor is fish-out-of-water when he waltzes up the gates of his new catholic public school, bombarded by cigarette smoking, obscure haircut having teenagers staring at the new kid on the block. Connor tiptoes his way into the school yard as he meets the school’s biggest-badest and baldest bully, Barry, portrayed by Ian Kenny. During his first stressful day, he meets his new heavily Irish-accented friend Darren who hands him a cutout piece of a cereal box with his ‘management services’ details scribbled on one side. After school, they meet outside the gates, across from them is a daringly glamorous, leather jacket wearing, stunningly beautiful, 80’s hair styled girl standing triumphantly. She instantly grabs Connor’s full attention. Can you guess where it’s going now….
Sing Street gets straight into the action there is no messing around with useless side stories, there are no cheap fluffy bits. Every scene holds meaning to every other scene, it all aids the main brilliantly written story. You learn immediately each character’s motivation, relation to main characters and meaning to the main story arc of this boy and girl wanting to do something more than just have a 2-up-2-down. They want a life of mystery, exploration and joyful fulfilment. Connor is directly influenced by his brother, Brendan, who he goes to, to seek out knowledge of how to write meaningful songs and create diverse music which is directly influenced by bands such as Duran Duran, The Police, The Cure, and Genesis, pure 1980’s gold. Connor is a self-proclaimed Futurist, music that pushes boundaries of the norm, new genres of music which was a gigantic wave in the 1980’s. Especially when Dublin was not as prosperous as it is nowadays when everyone wanted to go to London to create a new life for themselves full of opportunities.
Raphina, intriguingly portrayed by Lucy Boynton, is the girl of your dreams, dreams. From a humble background, living in a girl’s orphanage dreaming of becoming a model. So, of course, the first song Connor will ever write is going to be called “Riddle of the Model”, can guess what’s it about? Sing Street is a masterclass in combining the creative process of writing songs that can be directly connected to the story and its characters, this is such a trademark of director John Carney, and Sing Street is another amazing showing of Carney’s great talents. The marrying of music and storytelling happens throughout the movie, you cannot have one without the other. A personal favourite of music and storytelling is when Connor writes the song “Brown Shoes” it is directly linked to a story beat of defiance against authority. The song is based on a scene between Connor’s heavily catholic and authoritative headmaster, Brother Baxter, who is making Connor take off his shoes as they are the wrong colour. This type of relation between story and music makes Sing Street have so much soul and lightheartedness because you feel every high and every single low, it is a wild rocky ride of emotions, toying with you all the way until the credits.
However, if you are expecting for Sing Street just to be a love story, then you would be half right. Carney works his magic to create a story that not only holds a beautifully crafted coming of age story arc, it also holds a story of a family breaking apart and the tensions that come with the breakup of a family. For Connor’s brother, Brendan, the break up brings his own reality to the forefront as he realises that he’s wasted most of his life doing nothing but smoke weed and sit around having been a good guitarist. A gorgeous piece of writing done by Carney giving you something as amazing as the main story of a teenager exploring his own creativity but still giving you deep and meaningful side story which makes the movie a bag full of diverse story beats and experiences.
Ultimately, Sing Street will leave you with a massive ear-to-ear smile plastered on your grinning face, for its amazing storytelling and music created by Connor and his many experiences. Sing Street is 100% pure excitement and fun, and like Raphina says to Connor: “You can never do anything by half…”, and John Carney follows that rule until the final song is played. Simply a masterpiece of a movie…