January 31, 2017

Sing Street

John Carney, 2016
I have to confess that Sing Street was one of those movies that I watched the trailer for the first time and felt a little annoyed. It was clearly the headspace that I was in at the time. Because the movie surfaced one night through a brief Netflix browsing session with my wife who was looking for something with some heart and not blood. Sing Street would prove to be one of the better 2016 films to watch with my wife.

One of the redeeming qualities about Sing Street is the fact that when the group of high school strangers assemble, their first attempts of making music don't actually suck much. In fact even their first tune that they make is actually pretty catchy. By doing this it eliminates a lot of technical build up like in School of Rock where students literally have to learn from the ground up in terms of form. A device used is to sort of skip over the rudimentary obstacles is to plug in character Eamon (Mark McKenna) who not only is a multi-instrumentalist but he is even able to provide practice space because his father is in a cover band. School of Rock is a fitting movie to bring into this conversation because there are obvious parallels. Young school kids making music together, all bringing their own life experiences and using music as a form of expression. But the differences between the two are stark. Admittedly a lot of it is cultural. With Sing Street being an Irish production, the story is set in the rigid and strict confines of the UK educational system in the 1980's. The landscape is gloomy. There is an obvious sense of authoritarian rule. Bullying is rampant. School of Rock was more about a wild teacher finding a way to connect with a classroom. Sing Street is more about a young man dealing with all of the normal angst-ridden things that teenagers have to deal with and finding a way to deal with it. While a lot of what lead character Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) are common teenage problems, they are all illustrated in a way that makes it compelling on screen.

Perhaps the only negative that exists with Sing Street is the fact that its filled with the conventional teenage movie tropes. Frustration toward your parents. Not having a lot of friends. Not liking your teachers. The crush on the unattainable girl. Escape through music. But Carney finds a way to put blend these elements on screen that make it feel fresh and charming. This is likely to do with it with being an Irish production and having fresh faces on screen. It speaks well for international film, telling stories that might not be completely unique but telling the story in a place that doesn't get as much attention as it probably should. Its obvious that Sing Street would be a much different movie if it were set in New York City with American actors. But it wasn't. Instead it's a sweet little Irish film that will have "Drive it like you stole it" in your head for a few days after viewing.

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