This movie finds a way to sprinkle fairy dust over the entire audience. Enjoy the experience.
I sat in a crowded theater when I saw Sing Street and everyone loved it. It is a spectacularly enjoyable film from director John Carney that builds upon, and in many ways exceeds, his two prior hits, Once (2007) and Begin Again (2013).
Taking place in Dublin in 1985, it tells a tale of Conor, a young Irish lad in secondary school trying to rise above the financial quagmire afflicting his country and family. He sets out to form a band, and there is not a moment in this film that I didn’t treasure.
With his parents struggling over both money and a potential divorce, Conor (a memorable performance by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is forced to attend a rigid Catholic school run by priests still thinking that they live in the Middle Ages. In weak moments Conor receives both strength and consolation from his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), a guy smart enough to recognize his own weaknesses.
Director Carney’s strength focuses on his ability to combine music with a moving love story. Here, as Conor tries to form a musical group after meeting some boys with talent, his heart starts to skip a beat when he sees a beautiful girl standing on the steps of a facility for homeless girls. This is a lad who is instantly in love, and you root for both of them to the conclusion of this glorious film.
The young woman, Raphina, is played by Lucy Boynton. Clearly attracted to Conor, she also has her eyes set on fleeing to London and pursuing a modeling career. The relationship between her, Conor, and the entire band is at times flat out hysterical, and much of the audience was left laughing throughout the film.
While the music is at times phenomenal, the movie actually focuses on the human condition. All of these young people eventually learn that sadness is simply another feature of happiness, and it has to be embraced with a sense of optimism. Any hope of finding joy in life comes from a determination to spit in the face of adversity. As the old saying goes, if you want to guide your boat safely to land during a storm, then don’t forget to row towards shore while praying to God.
In closing, let me point out that songs from both of Mr. Carney’s prior films have been nominated for Oscars. I strongly suspect that it will happen again with Sing Street. In particular, watch for the incredibly moving song “On my way to find you” sung by Mr. Walsh-Peelo at a school concert at the end of the movie. It is powerful, tear jerking, and incredibly romantic. It wraps the entire film in a bow that makes it an enthralling experience.