I gotta admit, this movie sure gave me a few question marks. I didn’t know if it would be bad or not, but I could tell how many different ways it would annoy me. But a movie featuring good old fashioned 80’s British music would be entertaining at the very least and it looked funny enough. By the day’s end, I was on board with this one. I won’t say I was uber excited for it, but I thought it’d be alright. This is my honest opinion of SING STREET.
Set during the 80’s, fifteen year old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) lives in a broken family. His parents Robert and Penny (Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy respectively) are on the verge of divorcing, his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) is a college drop-out with no ambition, with only his sister Ann (Kelly Thornton) aspiring to do anything with her life. To make matters worse, they have to move and Conor has to go to a Christian school that is full of misbehaved kids, and more than a few bullies. But eventually, Conor meets Darren (Ben Carolan) who strike a friendship. As they leave school one day, Conor becomes entranced with a beautiful sixteen year old model Raphina (Lucy Boynton). He approaches her and wants her to be in his upcoming music video for his band. Intrigued by either his gumption or the opportunity to expand her modeling range, she agrees. Conor then turns to Darren and tells him that the two of them need to start a band. Recruiting the multi-talented Eamon (Mark McKenna) and a few other boys, they eventually form their new band, Sing Street, a play off of their school name, Synge Street CBS. So begins a story of how Conor falls in love with Raphina, whom may or may not share those feelings.
Unbelievably amazing. A serious contender for top five of this year.
The movie basically opens on the tone the audience should expect from the movie. Conor is strumming away on his guitar, while his parents are screaming at each other in the background. Tossing in the brilliant comedy, the lyrics that he’s improvising are all based on the things that his parents are saying. Already we get the impression that Conor has had to live with this imbalance for a while if he’s casually playing music and basing his lyrics off of insults and accusations.
That’s one of the most amazing things about this flick is the sarcastic humor. Another great moment is when Conor is putting the band together and these two siblings read Conor’s flier to join. They’re reading it in the middle of the hallway during school and as they’re reading that flier, one of the rowdier students runs up to the two boys, shouts something, probably a durogatory curse or something, and throws a paper ball at them. These two kids sort of just pause, let that delinquent do his thing, and keep on reading. This is the kind of subtle sarcastic humor that I adore. Anyone else may have freaked out and or retaliated in some way, but these boys treat it like it’s just another thing that happened. Hey, from what I hear about Christian schools, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was an accurate representation of what life would be like and how some students react to things otherwise considered disorderly.
Now, let’s face it, one of the legit best things to come out of the 80’s was the music. Some of the best songs were made at that time made by Billy Idol, Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, etc… and this movie not only delivers some pretty awesome music, the in-movie band Sing Street also makes their own music, unique to the story. Apparently, Bono of U2 was brought on to the production to help make the music. So tracks like, “To Find You,” “The Riddle of the Model,” and “Brown Shoes,” are not previously published tracks by another artist or band. They were specifically created for this movie. I gotta tell you, never in my life have I wanted a soundtrack so badly in my life… granted, I only wanted the seven tracks that were from Sing Street. Normally, I just want that one song from the credits, like, “Get Ready for it,” from KINGSMAN, “Be Cool AKA Keep Cool,” from BROOKLYN, and “Cry Me a River,” from V FOR VENDETTA. But no, I wanted everything that this band was singing. Yeah, their music is that catchy. Fine if this movie has to give me a heartfelt, incredibly well-written story, but you have to get me to feel for the music too? God damn it, movie! I mean, thank you, but god damn it!
And speaking of heartfelt, that’s what this movie has in abundance: heart. I love how this attractive model character isn’t some pretty face that has no personality, there is genuinely something for Conor to fall in love with and the audience is given plenty to care about. Her father’s dead, her mother’s insane, but despite living in a… boarding home? for girls, she’s pursuing her passion of modeling and made some progress. And Conor does do plenty of genuinely sweet things for Raphina that she takes very well. So she’s not just humoring the crush that he has for her, she does feel something for him too. Their relationship is given plenty of development and we want to see these two get together in the end of the film.
Another great thing this movie did was avoid cliches. Like I said before, Raphina isn’t the stereotypical model that only talks to attractive guys. She’s trusting and listens to Conor when he talks to her. Granted she has a loser boyfriend, but that isn’t dwelled on long. Conor is definitely a rebellious teenager, but in the best possible way. Not toward his parents, who don’t mistreat him in any way, but rather toward the head of the school. He will wear make-up on his face in the name of the band, even if the principal says to wipe it off, or change his shoes into something that he doesn’t own. The audience not only applauds Conor’s proverbial middle finger to the guy, but we genuinely feel angry toward the principal and remorse for Conor when he is forced to remove that make-up. This abuse is absolutely unfair considering that there is no school rule against him wearing it. It’s almost akin to watching a rape or torture scene considering that it happens in a bathroom and Conor’s left on the floor. It’s particularly heartbreaking because I couldn’t tell if he was gasping for breath or weeping from the brutality he had to endure just a few moments ago. Either way…
And I will never forgive myself unless I talk about this ending. Oh man. At this point in the story, Conor’s devised a plan to go to London to get his band officially started and to return to his home in Dublin to get the original band mates in the future. Of course, Conor and Raphina have gotten together and decide to go together, via Conor’s grandfather’s boat. They enlist the help of Conor’s trusted older brother Brendan who drives them to the dock. Throughout the story, Brendan’s been there to give Conor musical advice as well as advice on girls and genuinely wants him to achieve his dreams. Having been a college drop-out, he’s always wanted to make something of his own life, be a musician as well, but failed in his own eyes. Conor seemed to living Brendan’s dreams and he’s been fantastically supportive the whole way. In one of the most emotional experiences I’ve had this year in movies, he has a really hard time saying goodbye to Conor, but refuses to hold him up any longer from chasing his dreams, even though the odds are stacking against the two love birds. Though an argument could be made that it’s foolish to navigate their small boat through the small storm that’s brewing, the movie ends on an extraordinarily ambiguous note. I may not have had any tears come out, but by god, I wanted to cry. I really wanted to. I love movies that get me this emotional. Once the credits rolled, I clapped. Didn’t need to, it was a relatively empty auditorium, but I did anyway.
This is a strong contender to be one of my favorite movies of the year so far. The acting is phenomenal, the heart of the movie beats loudly, the music is engaging, the comedy is hilarious, that ending… this was the whole package and I can’t recommend this film enough. If you like a good, strong, coming-of-age story with some fun music and well-written characters, you’ll love this one. I’ve only seen it once, but I would pay to see it again and again. I don’t have to. One of the perks of my job is that I can see this movie for free. I will still pay to see it again. It’s a must-see, everyone. Don’t miss out.
My honest rating: 5/5
PS: I saw it a second time, I made good on that statement. Best thirteen dollars I ever spent.
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