John Carney—he, the flame-carrier of the undiscovered-musician-does-right movie genre—has added another to his impressive list of films with the nitty-gritty of pop music-making at its center with the lovable Sing Street.
“Rock and roll is a risk. You risk being ridiculed.”
With a cast of unknown Irish actors and musicians Carney is able to create a verisimilar Dublin and evoke the bubbly feeling of being a teen during heart of the British New Wave 1980s. The film is headlined by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as a poor, bullied boy in search for something to hold onto as his parents head for divorce. With the direction of his wise burnout brother, captured wonderfully by Jack Reynor, and because of a promise he made to older crush “the model” Lucy Boynton he decides to start a glam rock band. Walsh-Peelo finds his merry band of mates and they write their own music reflective of the times from Duran Duran to Joy Division (but not Phil Collins!).
The story has it that Carney saw hundreds of kids before casting the boys. It is apparent that he hit the lottery with Walsh-Peelo. If he couldn’t play both uneasy and precocious so well, and if he couldn’t deliver the songs as he does, the film would be lost. Like most movies of this ilk, everything depends on the songs. They nail it. Like would be created by teenage boys, the songs are direct rip-offs of their inspirations with just enough individual character. The songs, the boys’ music videos, and the heartfelt moments when the songs are created help the film earn its’ cheesy ending.