Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sing Street: Full of Soul and Character

Movie Review: Sing Street (2016)
Version: Library borrow

Sometimes it's good to get away from Hollywood blockbusters and watch an independent film. Sing Street is a delightful film from Ireland full of grit and character and soul.

Director John Carney made a movie about all the things he wanted to do as a teen in Ireland but was never able to do. It takes place in the mid-1980's, when music was in a transition to video, its sound and lyrics also in transition, which becomes the pathway for a boy's dreams of meeting a mysteriously beautiful girl by creating a band and writing music to woo her.  Carney's homage to his unfulfilled boyhood lives out in a film about life during the hard times in Dublin, Ireland, that is as much art as it is entertainment.

Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays the lead as Conor, the teen lad forced to change schools because financial times are hard at home. Jack Reynor plays Brenan, the drop-out older brother whose dreams have faded but rediscovers them in mentoring his younger sibling. School is a jungle enabled by abusive Catholic priests trying herd to rebellious youth, including a handful of young men who find a common bond in '80's music. Lucy Boynton plays Raphina, the girl who dreams of a career in modeling in London and plays along with Conor and the band, told she can be in their music video, the idea being it could help her modeling career.

With the exception of Boyton, the acting in the beginning of the film is amateurish, but as the film moves along and the plot and the music progresses, the acting improves and melds seamlessly into the background. The lads mature as characters and performers, their costumes and music maturing before our very eyes as the story becomes more real. Boyton is flawless throughout. Walsh-Peelo at first is hesitant as a singer, but quickly takes to the role as lead singer in the band. Mark McKenna who plays Eamon, Conor's music and lyrics collaborator, who can play every instrument in the band, and helps Conor write the music that will attract Raphina's attention, is flawless as a supporting actor. The other members of the band create a winsome ensemble of lovable characters. You even come to like the school bully by the end of the film.

Most independent films, especially foreign films, are more character driven than the Hollywood blockbusters we're driven by marketing efforts to see at our local theaters. Sing Street is full of character. It has the grit of the streets and alleyways of downtrodden Dublin. And it has the soul of a lost nation seeking direction, seeking a way out of its misery, and seeking young love. There is so much to love about this film. The final scenes will steal your heart away.

Do yourself a favor and watch Sing Street. It's what good film making is all about.

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