Who doesn’t love the eighties? It was an era of corduroy pants, David Bowie’s intense makeup and music videos as a new form of art. I wasn’t alive in the eighties, but somehow, I still get nostalgic thinking about it. Luckily, I stumbled upon John Carney’s film “Sing Street,” which gave me the dose of the eighties I didn’t even realize I needed.
At its core, “Sing Street” is a movie about a young boy in 1980’s Dublin who starts a band to impress a girl. It’s a premise done time and time again—but never like this. This film is an homage to the eighties and to music and to growing up.
When the film opens, we meet Conor, a 15-year-old stuck in a household with a failing marriage and failing finances. His parents transfer him to a new school where he gets bullied from the moment he arrives. On his first day, he meets Raphina, a troubled model who is only sixteen but apparently far too good for anybody at his new school.
Conor refuses to accept that, so he talks to her, and he realizes that the only way to impress her is to, apparently, lie and tell her he is in a band. Of course, the only logical thing to do after that conversation is to start a band.
He gathers a slew of random kids at his school, and they start a band and write their own songs. And they’re good. Conor uses a tape recorder to record all their songs and then lets Raphina listen. She is so moved by the lyrics that are very obviously about her that she helps them make their music videos.
It’s hard not to root for Conor. He’s got good intentions but a bad lot in life. What makes Conor an admirable character, though, is that he refuses to let circumstance destroy him. He channels it into his music and he grows into such a stronger person by the end.
This movie deals with some tough subjects in a way that feels authentic: bullying, individuality, divorcing parents and unrequited first love. These elements, I think, are what makes this film so watchable. It didn’t feel contrived; it just felt real.
Admittedly, my favorite part about this movie was the music. Somehow this group of scrawny high school boys manages to create music that has enticing lyrics and instrumental work. Every time they’d play one of their new songs, I wanted to download it immediately. Somehow Carney managed to incorporate several full songs without making this feel like a musical. It was more of a fun element that complemented the story very well.
I really adored “Sing Street.” It’s different than most other movies I’ve seen, but it’s still relatable and engaging. I will definitely be making my friends add this film to their Netflix queues.