When it comes to musical in today’s cinematic enviroment, we only get a handful of good ones every five years, but if we can count on someone to always deliver with a good musical, that’s John Carney. Not only does he always come up with great melodies to accompany his story, but the man is an experienced director that knows how to build characters and display emotion on film. Coming off Begin Again which was probably his most commercially viable film, Carney decides to retreat back to 1980’s Ireland in order to give us his most joyous film to date. Not only is this his most jovial and energetic film he’s done, but its might also be the best feel-good movie of the year. A musical coming-of-age tale following a group of teenagers that form a band inspired by the likes of Duran Duran and Depache Mode to get a girl, is there really anything better than that?
We know Carney’s got the musical aspects of the film down, the guy’s a musical wiz. What resonates here, more so than in his others film which are actually full of this, is the passion perceivable from every shot in this movie. In a way Carney is paying respect to the brilliance of the Hughes-era 80’s flicks and the new dose of music that surged in the 1980’s. Clearly these are things everybody loves, but the way Carney embodies this love in the film itself is what brings that 80’s joyful/energetic vibe the film has. Similar to what Dope did for 90’s rap, you can clearly see a love towards 80’s music ever-present in Sing Street, from the way these kids film their insanely 80’s-tinged music videos to the very lyrics of the songs they write, they all fit perfectly within the decade and add to the time-capsule feeling of the film.
As we’ve learned from John Hughes films in the past, one of the key components in displaying that youthful energy on film is being able to assemble a perfect cast as Hughes did in The Breakfast Club. I’m not stating this group is the new Breakfast Club, but they’re really darn good. Especially Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who plays the protagonist, a kid who’s sole purpose to create this band in the first place was in order to get a girl’s number and then ends up falling love with the band itself because of the girl’s affection towards the band. Its wicked fun, from the youthful group’s exemplification of an 80’s band to their joyful musical performances, they’re all great. Something else I loved about this film is that it doesn’t fall down the typical cliche where the band splits mid-way through the film and then get back together for the final act, no, in Sing Street everyone displays brotherly love towards each other, with each character always being there for the other and everyone showing the same display of happiness when together.
As I mentioned previously, John Carney not only knows how to take care of the musical side of things, but also knows his way around the emotional characterizations that make you relate and sympathize with your characters. Once again, with Sing Street Carney crafts another love story, except here he doesn’t have to deal with the dilemmas of adulthood and can instead focus on the core sweetness of teenage love. Taking yet another cue from films like The Breakfast Club and Say Anything…, Carney depicts young love in its best form, transferring the idea of love at first sight onto the screen in its purest essence depicting a relationship that feels like a love-child of the one’s showcased in Moonrise Kingdom & Say Anything… Its that radical type of love where the 16 year-old says I’d do anything for you and you believe him despite the fact he still hasn’t been exposed to the real world, its a young confidence that perfectly depicts the mindset of kid at that age.
Now that we’ve cleared up how Carney manages to pull of every other element that makes up this film besides the musical aspect to it, I cannot stress how great music is handled in Sing Street. Whether its to bring joy to the audience like when the group films their first music video or used as an emotional backdrops to the conversations set between Cosmo and his brothers, Carney finds a way to weave music into every aspect of this world he’s created in the best way possible.
With all that said, Sing Street is roaring train of musical optimism that will enrapture you with its charming tale of young love. Carney excels as a director in bringing some wonderful characters to life and having music infiltrate their lives in such powerful ways. The soundtrack for this movie is magnificent, Carney’s enthusiasm is palpable in the screen and everyone delivers a great performance. Sing Street is a purely fun movie that finds a way to reinvigorate musicals for today’s cinematic landscape.