Stars: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton
Runtime: 1hr 46min
Sing Street continues the renewal of my faith in movies in 2016. Now it is true, I saw several movies at TriBeca this year that raised the average for the year, but otherwise, few movies have raised the bar above okay. If you are in your 40’s, like myself, and spent most of the 80’s growing up in a cold war world with the Russians being “them”, rejecting the bell bottoms of the 70’s, embracing big hair and dudes wearing lipstick, then this movie is going to spark a lot of nostalgia.
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo breaks onto the big screen as Conor (Cosmo, as he is later dubbed by Raphina), a young chap living with his parents failing marriage and escalating money troubles in Dublin Ireland. He is forced to change schools and attend Synge Street, a strict Christian Brothers school so his parents can save money. He spots a mature girl standing on the corner near his school, Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who has intentions to leave Dublin for London to start her modeling career. Conor suggests that she appear in a music video for his band, though he hasn’t formed one yet, and the chase is on.
So much about this movie appealed to me. It felt authentic and innocent. The music in the movie was inspired by Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and the Cure, among others. Scenes evoked humor as Conor evinced not only the musical style of each but the visual as well. Subtle differences, meant to capture the influence of each band, were accurately depicted to great effect.
The music of this movie wasn’t even my favorite of the decade. My first cassette purchase was AC/DC, Back in Black, but my second was Duran Duran Notorious. (I think it was that backward “notorious” that was stuck in the opening lick that got me) I parted from the new wave scene to the harder variety of big hair bands (I later adopted the boots and flannel of the Grunge scene in my truly formative early 90’s and squashed the decade entirely via the scent of teen spirit) but the “spirit” of this movie dominated the entire culture of the 80’s. All of the truly cult classic movies of the 1980’s could have fit in the spectrum of this offering. I couldn’t help but feel uplifted by the “happy sad” tone of the music and thought the actual performance of the songs by the young actors was outstanding, as well.
At its heart, and the heart of any great story, this was a movie about the chase of affection from a girl. Intertwined with it was the angst of youth and failed dreams. The blight of what can become from settling for the practical was constantly put into focus against Conor’s direction. His brother was a burnout pothead that failed out of college, with his own dreams of musical success hampered by his lack of dedication and follow through. His sister has given up her interest in art to conform successfully as a student headed for greatness at University in line with her parent’s expectations.
Perhaps the biggest contrast on one’s youthful hopes and dream is depicted by his parents. They are failing as a couple, having married for the wrong reasons and going through the motions until they have grown so far apart that the end is nigh. This is truly a classic tail and fits well along with the 80’s backdrop.
I highly recommend you see this movie.