Like John Carney’s previous films, Sing Street is immediately endearing. It has a certain charm and swagger that other films can only dream to achieve. Despite its predictable plot points that come with the confines of a coming-of-age film, Sing Street is an enjoyable romp, with a great cast and some great tunes.
Sing Street is at its best when it’s just the band jamming out. Protagonist Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) forms this eccentric group of kids after struggling to fit in at his new school. His parents are going through a divorce, and he wants to impress a model across the street named Raphina (Lucy Boynton). It’s cute, of course, but Sing Street prefers to delve deeper into Connor’s head and what songwriting means to him. Forming a band initially for selfish reasons turns out to be just what he needed.
The script goes through all the motions of a coming-of-age film, but that doesn’t mean Sing Street cannot stand out. For one thing, the soundtrack is immediately noticeable, featuring ’80s hits from Duran Duran, Hall & Oats, The Cure and more. It’s a treat, and these songs are introduced to Connor by his brother Brendan (Jack Reynor, a standout), and the film gets significant mileage out of his relationship with his underachieving stoner brother. The original songs, co-written by Carney himself (the film is semi-autobiographical) are also brilliant and follow the storytelling logically and musically. Beginning with “The Riddle of the Model” all the way to “Girls,” the songs are lyrically complex and easy on the ears.
Connor goes through all the ups and downs that come with growing up in 1980s Dublin at a Catholic school. He’s bullied, tormented by the school principal, but the band allows him to express his creativity and non-conformity. As the band films their first video, they’re a hot mess, aesthetically and musically. But seeing them grow as musicians and individuals throughout the film is endearing and a joy to watch. Little things, like band member Eamon’s (Mark McKenna) love for rabbits, or the school bully’s surprising developments toward the end of the film, keep Sing Street from falling into any storytelling traps.
While the main romance can be a bit groan-inducing and heteronormative, you’ll find yourself rooting for Connor and his band to crush their gig at the school dance and for Connor to get the girl. Fine performances from the young actors breathe hopes and fears into these characters, such as Raphina’s desire to model in London or brother Brendan’s desire to be more than just the stoner inspirational sibling. Sing Street may not be the most daring of films, but its eccentricities and fantasies turn it into a fine gift this spring.