Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor
Director: John Carney
Running Time: 105 mins
Sing Street is an Irish film about a teenage boy who, after a series of family financial difficulties, is forced to move to a rough school. There, however, he decides to start a band with his friends in order to impress a girl across the road.
This is a nice film. It’s a coming of age tale with heart, it’s got a great soundtrack, and some pretty good performances. However, rather than telling a properly compelling story, Sing Street often feels a little too preoccupied with portraying its time period. It undoubtedly paints a picture of mid-80s pop culture very well, but that’s at the expense of a genuinely engrossing story, making this seem like a little too much style over substance.
Directed and written by John Carney, who also made Once (which I didn’t like) and Begin Again (which I loved), Sing Street is a bit of a middling film of his. As we’ve seen in his other films, there’s always a real passion for making music, and how it can bring people together, and that does feature once again here.
Time and time again, we get some great original songs mixed with classics of the 80s, and that’s one of the things that makes this an enjoyable watch. It’s a toe-tapper of a film, and, particularly if you have a strong nostalgia for the time period, you’ll love seeing it portrayed on screen so well.
However, unlike Begin Again, which weaved that music in with an engrossing and emotional story, Sing Street suffers from a very thin story, and pretty plain characters, which means that it’s never as emotionally resonant as it needs to, and clearly wants to be.
There were numerous moments where the story takes a step back from the fun of making a band and singing songs, and tries to look at the various problems in the characters’ lives in order to get you to connect with them more. However, seeing as none of the characters really stand out from one another, and all just feel like very generic coming-of-age movie teenagers, it was a lot harder for me to care about whatever was happening in their personal lives, which meant that any time when the film tried to be more emotional, it really fell flat.
And this is where I’m going to bring in a comparison to The Commitments, which was clearly a big influence on this film. They both have great music, and they’ve both got a great sense of fun about them, but the major difference is the characters. In The Commitments, the varied personalities gave the film a great dynamic, and also meant that you could care about each individual person on screen, whereas in Sing Street, considering that we don’t have that, it loses a huge amount of its power, and makes the majority of the story feel very thin.
The characters may be thin, and that does impact on your interest, but the performances are still very good. Although they may not have so much to do, young actors including Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor and especially Lucy Boynton really do shine, and do very well to keep you entertained and engaged by what is in truth a bit of an average and generic story.
Overall, I liked Sing Street. It’s a pleasant, fun and musical coming-of-age movie which brilliantly portrays its time period and features some strong performances. Its story, however, feels very thin, and that means that it’s never as emotionally effective or interesting as it should have been, and that’s why I’m giving Sing Street a 7.4.