Sing Street

Kate Young
13th Jul 2016

There seem to be two constant running themes throughout the films of John Carney (Once, Begin Again), the first being music, used as a narrative device, and the other is love - laying everything down even if it means having your heart trampled.

When we first meet the protagonist of Carney's new film Sing Street, 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a young dreamer, is listening through the walls as his parents bitterly argue downstairs. Using their bitter words as lyrical inspiration, Conor strums to himself: “If we didn’t share a mortgage, I’d leave you.”

Set in 1985, the film's Dublin setting is going through a time of economic recession. When Conor’s father loses his job, sending his family into dire financial difficulties, he is pulled out of his posh school and thrown into the rough playgrounds of the Christian Brothers School on Synge Street. With the motto Viriliter Age translated to “act manly”, Conor struggles to find his place while trying to dodge bullies, outwit repressive priests and make friends. Conor's luck changes when he meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton) a 16-year-old delinquent who lives across the street from the school. Taking a leap of faith, Conor introduces himself and it is here that Raphina wearily informs him that she is a model with plans to move to London. Seizing the moment, he impulsively asks her to be the star of his bands next music video. The only problem being, he has yet to form one.

He enlists a band full of misfits: Pint-sized Darren (Ben Carolan), who imagines himself a manager, sensitive Eamon (Mark McKenna), who keeps rabbits and happens to play every instrument known to humankind, then there’s Ngig (Percy Chamburka) the only kid of colour so he’s guaranteed to have rhythm, and to round out the band is the brothers Larry and Garry who are just board and tired of breaking things. The crew start off by playing Duran Duran covers, but eventually Conor turns to his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) a cynical stoner who gives him a little lesson in music and encourages the lad to write his own original music if he ever wants any hope of winning the girl. Inspired, Conor writes the band's first original song, "The Riddle of the Model", which is obviously inspired by Raphina. What follows is a hilarious and cringe worthy film clip epitomising the distinctive tackiness of the 80’s.

One of the strongest elements to this film is the soundtrack. As Conor’s brother Brendon mentors him through his extensive LP collection, we get to make our way through some of the most definitive artists of the 80’s like The Cure, Spandau Ballet, The Jam, Hall & Oates and more, combined with new songs written especially for the film. “Drive like You Stole it” is a huge standout with an amazing film clip that plays homage to Back to the Future.

Sing Street is a sublime visual mixtape of everyone's teen years, when we were all discovering who we are and who we wanted to be. It’s about finding happiness in the sadness, its about taking risks and jumping and not worrying where you might land. It’s a celebration of first loves and heartaches and every teen dream in between. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll sing along.

Sing Street opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday July 14th.