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Sing Street

February 25, 2017

Sing Street (2016)
Director: John Carney
Actors: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor

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Synopsis: A teenage boy, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), growing up in ’80s Dublin, forms a group at his new school to woo an attractive, older teenage girl, Raphina (Lucy Boynton).

Review: John Carney’s retro-feelgood mash-up, Sing Street, is elevated by its sheer charm and the way it taps into a fundamental truth about the sentiment of teenage yearning. The seemingly arbitrary way that the eponymous band comes about is actually quite plausible: a young boy – full of images and lyrics in his head from Top of the Pops – makes a sudden pronouncement about starting a group simply to impress an older girl.

Aiding the film’s charm is that it has the joyous sense of a really spirited, concentric production – sure sign of strong core direction and all the actors knowing what they’re doing. There’s deceptive skill in the way song, action and character development segue nicely together, and there isn’t anything less than excellent turns from the full cast of performers. Particular mention deserves to go to Lucy Boynton who transforms a slightly two-dimensional character into a convincingly entrancing and complex object of lead character Conor’s affection. Jack Reynor is also very good as Conor’s slacker, but progressively inspirational, older brother Brendan.

It feels churlish to be overly picky, but, just at times, the parental divorce subplot feels a touch unearned and something that’s been tagged on to give Conor some cheap pathos. One or two of the ironic nostalgia ‘winks’ at the ’80s music (Brendan’s waxing lyrical over the video of Duran Duran’s “Rio”) are a bit obvious and passé. Better is the whole ‘boy meets girl’ feel of the story, and Conor’s school dance “dream” is a brilliant visual and musical centrepiece for the film. It’s also a clever manifestation of how music represents a great outlet for Conor: a place where he can project optimistically onto the various, troubled players in his life (his parents, his girlfriend, his siblings, even his teachers). (February 2017)

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