“Rock ‘n’ roll is a risk”. Those, the words of Brendan, our protagonist Conor’s older brother-cum-mentor, are in many ways quite fitting.
The first risk, when you see the film, is evident: 15-year-old Conor, forced into a new Catholic school in 1985 Dublin as one of his parents’ cost-cutting measures, tries to impress the ethereal, older Raphina by asking her to be in his music video. Risk taken, and indeed a success, he needs to actually form a band (Sing Street) and then write a song; and so our story of rogue schoolboy chancer begins.
The second risk (chronologically the first, but for the sake of this review it works best if it’s the second) is ours. That is, if, like many of us, the idea of a musical film leaves you feeling somewhat nauseous, take a risk on Sing Street. Okay, so it isn’t This Is England-style grit, but it’s not the happy-clappy High School Musical cheese you might expect.
Alongside the school rock band narrative runs a story of broken homes and a few drops of teenage existential doubt, but the true forte of the script is its humour. It’s genuinely funny, especially if you have a little prior comprehension of 80s pop culture (“No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins”).
The tale is also inevitably intertwined with its soundtrack. Conor and friends attempt to emulate those bands to whom they are introduced throughout the film, groups such as Duran Duran, The Cure and The Jam, ushering you toward at least a decent soundbar to find the film’s groove.
The original pieces performed by the group aren’t so cutting edge, though, whether intentionally or not, they do have the borderline embarrassing lyrics you’d expect from a 15-year-old trying to find his voice. It’s more Journey than Joy Division, but undeniably fun and well worth turning up the volume with a decent speaker package.
On the technical side, the picture isn’t really one to rely on subtlety – we’re mostly in daylight and there’re no special effects to speak of – but this rendering of the film is sharp and nuanced enough to feel natural; quite simply, no complaints.
Ultimately, Sing Street is dead fun. Will it find its way into many people’s all-time top five? Unlikely. Would we have it in our Blu-Ray collection to pull out when we’re feeling glum? Yes, yes we would. Take a risk and enjoy.
- Making Sing Street (1080p, 4:54): A look at core story details, how the movie reflects Writer/Director John Carney's own experiences and the film's role as his personal wish fulfillment, and the music in the film
- Writer/Director John Carney & Adam Levine Talk Sing Street (1080p, 3:25): Discussions include Carney's ability to mesh movie and music, the film's realistic reproduction of the 80s, and more.
- Cast Auditions (1080p/1080i): Included is John Carney on Casting (1:56), the writer/director discussing the casting process, followed by the audition footage featuring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo - "Conor" (2:32), Lucy Boynton - "Raphina" (2:36), Mark McKenna - "Eamon" (2:41), Ben Carolan - "Darren" (3:04), Ian Kenny - "Barry" (1:12), Percy Chamburuka - "Ngig" (0:40), Karl Rice - "Garry" (2:04), and Conor Hamilton - "Larry"(0:54).