In 1980s Dublin the economic recession forces Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) out of his comfortable private school and into survival mode at the inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious and Ÿber-cool Raphina and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band's music videos. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he's promised - calling himself "Cosmo" and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the 80s, he forms a band with a few lads and the group pours their hearts into writing lyrics and shooting videos.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you’ve been around the cinema block a few times you’ll be familiar with the evergreen stories of forming a band/staging a show/dancing or singing to success as a means of escaping small town limitations or domestic turbulence. It takes a special kind of freshness to tread this story path without seeming to be derivative or repetitious, but John Carney manages it. The authenticity of place and time, the bubbling (not to be confused with bubbly) performances of the teens who take centre stage in this almost mythical story of growing into their dreams, and the music, yes the music, all combine to give us an enthralling time.
Dublin is the small town when compared to London, teasingly over the horizon, where those ferries that steam past are heading. That’s where dreams are fulfilled, at least in the optimistic world of wannabe musos and singers. The story provides a solid road for Conor (aka Cosmo in his lead singer persona), brilliantly portrayed by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo in a performance that may even overcome the obstacle of his name in his search for an acting career. He carries much of the film, and delivers a complete and satisfying multi-faceted teenager on the brink of adulthood, whose emotions and talents are his ticket to the future.
Lucy Boynton is magical as Raphina, the 16 year old wiser than her years, growing up without parents but worldly wise yet vulnerable. Especially to genuine love.
They are supported by a solid cast of family and friends. Most effective and with the biggest role, is Jack Reynor as older brother Brendan, who missed his chance and is now encouraging younger brother Conor to find his place in the world, free of the shackles that hold him to home. It’s a big, hearty role matched by Reynor’s performance. (The film is dedicated to ‘brothers everywhere’.)
The school cast is just as strong, with a couple of outstanding performances from fellow students, some of whom become members of the Sing Street band.
The textured story, with parental conflict and a none too kind view of some teachers, fills the dramatic needs of the film and the odd touch of humour adds lubrication. The music the band create is perfectly fitting to the times and is varied enough to keep our interest. I have only one gripe: production designer Alan MacDonald allowed his exuberance to run amok with the ever-surprising hair, make up and wardrobe - for Conor especially - constantly interrupting our focus with our raised eyebrow. Still, better to overdo it, I suppose, given the context.
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SING STREET (M)
CAST: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka
PRODUCER: Anthoiny Bregman, John Carney, Kevin Scott Frakes, Christian Grass, Martina Niland, Raj Brinder Singh, Paul Trijbits
DIRECTOR: John Carney
SCRIPT: John Carney
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yaron Orbach
EDITOR: Andrew Marcus, Julian Ulrichs
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan MacDonald
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 14, 2016