This movie about a school band at an Irish Catholic school is a real gem.
Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who just changed schools because his parents want to save money, sees a pretty girl, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), standing outside the school and pretends to have a band in order to get her to star in their video. Although she sees through this, she agrees and Connor tells his new buddy in a hilarious and cute moment that they now need to form a band. On their search for students who can play an instrument, they form a ragtag group of outsiders, who grow to create pretty good music given that Conor improvises everything initially. Even their first song “The Riddle of the Model” has some nice Depeche Mode vibes and is weirdly catchy. The band members are pretty likeable and develop a nice chemistry over the course of the movie.
Conor is taught a lot about music, the motivations of true rock artists and inspired by classic records (with some nice nods to classic rock bands) by his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), who has contributed significantly to Conor’s development towards a pretty good singer-songwriter, most importantly by believing in Conor. It’s not for nothing that the film is dedicated to “All the brothers out there” as this aspect might easily be overlooked but Brendan is a brother everyone would wish for.
The band’s perpetual changes of style mark steps in their development and are more often than not a source of humor. Their songs are pretty groovy and make you tap your foot to the rhythms. The texts are good and mostly radiate a positive energy. Organically integrating several performances of music into a movie is the strength of director John Carney, the maestro of music films (Begin Again).
Conor never ceases to pursue Raphina despite all stepping stones that might occur along the way and is eventually rewarded for his boldness and putting himself out there emotionally. His texts nicely mirror the troubles he’s facing even if he appears a tiny bit too precocious. Nevertheless, he is a pretty relatable character as everyone can identify with the fear of daring. His relation to Raphina develops naturally as both actors do a good job. Littlefinger Aidan Gillen and Mrs. S from Orphan Black (Maria Doyle Kennedy) play minor roles as Conor’s parents but do not particularly shine in their brief appearances. It is all about the teenagers and that is why the movie succeeds in actually making you believe in pursuing your dreams, even if it doesn’t last overly long beyond the runtime in this cynical world. The absolute highlight was the incredibly cheerful main song “Drive it like you stole it” and the music video Conor imagines, with everyone dancing in a Back to the Future-style setting, which was very fun to watch. I can’t believe this song was snubbed at the major awards.
A very uplifting coming-of-age/music film that is funny and entertaining but also has a good, life-affirming message. Carney once again demonstrates the power of music and Sing Street an absolute must-see from 2016.
All images (including title image) and videos © by arthaus Filmverleih, taken from the official website
shoter German version: Ein absolut toller Feel-Good-/Coming-of-Age-Film, der unverdient etwas unter dem Radar lief. Die Formation der Band ist unterhaltsam, weil es eine Gruppe aus unterschiedlichen Außenseitern ist, die dann aber eine coole Chemie entwickeln. Conor als Protagonist gerät zwar gegen Ende etwas zu altklug und frühreif, aber seine emotionale und kreative Entwicklung ist interessant und mitreißend, auch weil die Chemie zu seinem Love Interest funktioniert. Die Songs der Band sind recht catchy und man erwischt sich öfters dabei, mit dem Fuß zu wippen und breit zu grinsen, weil die Drehs der Musikvideos auch durch die permanenten Stilwechsel echt witzig sein können. Das absolute Highlight für mich war “Drive it like you stole it” mit seinem lebensbejahenden Text und dem hervorragenden Video als Back to the Future-Hommage. John Carney kann es einfach sehr gut, Musikperformances organisch in seine Film einzubauen. Auch fand ich sehr stark, dass der Film allen Brüdern dieser Welt gewidmet ist, denn Conors Bruder ist einer, den sich jeder wünschen würde: er bringt ihm extrem viel über Musik und Kreativität bei und glaubt an ihn (und sein Beitrag leicht übersehen werden könnte) Ein sympathischer Film, der einen hervorragend unterhält, mit toller Musik. Einer der besten aus 2016.