By: Muneeb Arshid
As we head into May, we are now officially at the beginning of the summer blockbuster season. That will become much more apparent next week with the release of that new Marvel superhero romp. As in previous years, we are always presented with a teen musical drama that will tend to go on top of the box office in this lull period before the release of a major blockbuster (depending on its competition). That was the case last year with Pitch Perfect 2 beating out the highly touted and received Mad Max: Fury Road in its first weekend. Will that be the case this year? Well, in one aspect yes, we are getting another teen musical drama. However, it will definitely not be going on top of the box office.
Sing Street is the name of said teen musical drama and is the story of an Irish high schooler in 1985 who forms a band in the sole hope of impressing a girl. The boy is Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is experiencing challenging times at home with his parents on the brink of divorce due to his father Robert (Game of Thrones‘ very own Aiden Gillen) not able to bring in income through his job. As a result, Conor is forced to change schools and has to transfer to a public catholic school. On his way home from school, he eyes a lonely girl and builds up the courage to go and talk to her, which none of the other kids have done themselves. While trying to impress the girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton), he mentions that he is in a band and that they could use a model for their music video. She agrees which then prompts Conor to actually set up this band and start making music and writing lyrics for their new songs. As the band (named Sing Street, a play on the street, Synge Street, where the kid’s school is located) gains more experience, they receive the ultimate chance to play their first gig at the end-of-year party at their school. As the story progresses towards this climax for the band, the relationship between Conor and Raphina also blossoms throughout the film.
What’s great about this film is it accomplishes everything that it sets out to and does so very well. It portrays the teenage growth part of the genre to a tee, does the musical part perfectly and yet still provides enough drama for you to stay intrigued even though you know where the film is going about 20 minutes into its runtime. All of the actors who are in this film are near perfect, especially the acting debut of Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. There is a calmness in his acting which you don’t necessarily expect from a first-time actor. However, what does help him through this debut is the fact that he is surrounded by a group of actors who are similar in age and are able to play off each other throughout the film. The chemistry between Conor and Raphina is one of note as they build their relationship throughout the school year. Both have to go through their own trials and tribulations in their own personal problems while also figuring out where their relationship is progressing. The relationship itself is cliche for those familiar with teen dramas, however, it’s the way the two actors portray their characters and seemingly have this natural chemistry with each other that helps make their relationship not only realistic but also makes you cheer them on so they can be together.
The highlight of this film definitely has to be the wonderful 1980s soundtracks that were used for the film. The film uses a perfect mixture of tracks from famous 80s rockers such as Duran Duran, The Cure and The Jam as a means of Sing Street beginning their band as a cover band. Then, eventually, we get a transition for the band to creating their own original material as a means to move ahead and create their own style which is something that Conor really takes to heart to show a more rebellious side against the harsh Catholic policies of his school. The soundtrack is absolutely on point with every single member of our audience bobbing their head to the soundtrack either for nostalgia’s sake or like myself, wanting a soundtrack that doesn’t consist of the same electronic music that we’ve become accustomed to nowadays.
Sing Street won’t be on many people’s radars this May, especially with the impending release of a certain Captain vs. Iron Dude. However, for a year that has seen many new films that have hit the “new favourite of the year” mark, I can honestly say that Sing Street is one of my favourite and most enjoyable films of 2016. It may not be the best-produced film out there, but for a genre that has produced a variety of teen musical dramas in the past few years, it’s nice to see such a good-hearted film that about a blossoming relationship whilst not focusing on either the relationships or the band excessively, but rather is a perfect example of great genre-mixing.
We, at the Film Lawyers present Sing Street with a grade of B+ (8.4/10).