Ailbhe O’ Reilly sings along to John Carney’s Sing Street, which opened this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.
You could be mistaken for thinking that John Carney’s latest film Sing Street is essentially pitched as High School Musical set in Dublin in the ’80s. Not exactly the premise of a great film, but you would be wrong as the movie is a real gem.
Carney has already gotten some notice for the low budget Once and the more mainstream film Begin Again – both of which I liked, but I believe that Sing Street is his best yet. The cast of mainly unknowns – apart from the lead Cosmo’s parents played by Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy and his brother Jack Reynor (in a truly awful wig!) – rise to the task and give the film a naturalism that is rare in musicals.
The lead Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and his friend Eamon (Mark McKenna) are particularly strong as the film’s Lennon and McCarthy – with some beautiful song writing scenes that are becoming a staple in Carney’s films.
The story follows Cosmo as he is forced to move to an inner city school, Synge Street CBS, when his parents are experiencing money problems. As with all coming-of-age stories, there is of course a girl that Cosmo wants to impress, so he then naively decides to form a band with his school mates in order to woo her.
What makes Sing Street unique and gets the audience on side is that Carney doesn’t forget he is in Dublin in the ’80s, it is unpretentious and the director uses the Irish sense of humour to great effect. There are many laugh out loud moments poking fun at the decade’s style, the fickle lives of teenagers and the awkwardness of adolescent’s love lives.
The film is also more realistic than most musicals as the issues of school bullying, cruel teachers and family problems are all dealt with as part of teenage life.
The film’s soundtrack is brilliant and you will find yourself toe tapping throughout to both the original score and eighties hits.
Sing Street has a great pace and a fantastic climax that will find you leaving the cinema smiling after a truly excellent Irish film. Carney is going from strength to strength and Hollywood is beginning to take notice.
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Sing Street screened on 18th February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 -28 February)