Sing Street is the sort of film that has a well-worn tale, but it’s the brilliance in which it all comes together that grabs your attention and rarely lets go.
With his rowing parents on the verge of divorce, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has to downgrade schools and attend Synge Street (pronounced ‘Sing Street’ which gives the band their name), run by the nasty Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley), which sounds like the sort of Catholic schol Neil Tennant, from the Pet Shop Boys, sometimes laments about.
Very much in the mould of The Commitments, they get together a rather rag-tag band of individuals who can’t really play, but as Conor’s brother Brendan tells him, they have to learn how *not* to play, “like the Sex Pistols”. They also make assumptions that the sole black lad in town, Ngig (Percy Chamburuka), must be able to play a musical instrument “because he’s black”. In addition, Conor is the ‘school spanner’, and the geek that wants to get the girl is a well-worn, familiar tale, but this is done in a fantastically entertaining way.
The film deals with topics such as standing up to bullies, the perils of not making your life to be what you want it to be, taking a leap of faith, parental divorce (welcome support from Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy, the latter from the aforementioned Alan Parker movie), watching Top of the pops on a Thursday night at 7pm, and his brother Brendan astutely concludes, “No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins”.
In this film, the geek will inherit the girl… or will he?
Set in Dublin, 1985, the film takes in many glorious locations in Ireland as well as some of my favourite ’80s tunes including Flash and the Pan (Waiting For A Train), Duran Duran (Rio), The Clash (I Fought The Law – okay, nearly ’80s), M (Pop Muzik – and, again) and Hall & Oates (Maneater). Sometimes, these inspire new works, including the one that the original music can’t hold a candle to, the band’s original composition, The Riddle of The Model (below). Sod whatever rubbish from an animated film is being touted at the next Oscars or BAFTAs, I want THAT in the running for Best Original Song!
I also love their cover of Duran Duran’s Rio, but how dare Conor’s mother close her ears to it? Then again, I’d be thinking the same if any children of mine were trying to cover One Direction’s misleadingly-titled Best Song Ever!
I have to admit that director’s John Debney‘s Once is once of those films that’s been forever on my to-watch list. I know I’ll enjoy it, but I’ve just not got round to it. I will aim to resolve that very shortly!
I have one other observation which I’ll have to put in a spoiler bracket for those who haven’t seen the film…
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and brilliantly gives us the look of the ’80s, not only in set design but also in the film’s grading.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1 and as well as the music being a treat, often it gets used in the rear speakers to pump up those scenes and make you feel a part of them.
The extras are few and far between. We really needed more:
- Adam Levine – Go Now (3:50): The music video for the closing theme, mixing in clips from the film. It’s a rather forgettable track.
- The Making of Go Now (3:33): Adam Levine and director John Debney talk about the song.
- A Beautiful Sea – Live performance at The Sundance Film Festival (3:25): We only hear this briefly in the film, so it’s good to have this in full here. It’s sung by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (Conor) and Mark McKenna (Eamon).
- Audio Description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu features clips from the film set against a segment of the song Drive It Like You Stole It. Shame they didn’t use The Riddle of the Model, since that’s less than two minutes long so could easily fit in there in full. Subtitles are in English and there’s a typically poor 12 chapters that most studios use. I always work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 106 minutes
Released: August 8th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Arricam LT, Red Epic)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John Carney
Producers: Anthony Bregman, John Carney, Kevin Scott Frakes, Christian Grass, Martina Niland, Raj Brinder Singh and Paul Trijbits
Screenplay: John Carney
Conor: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
Raphina: Lucy Boynton
Eamon: Mark McKenna
Darren: Ben Carolan
Ngig: Percy Chamburuka
Brendan: Jack Reynor
Barry: Ian Kenny
Ann: Kelly Thornton
Brother Baxter: Don Wycherley
Robert Lalor: Aidan Gillen
Penny: Maria Doyle Kennedy
Brother Barnabas: Des Keogh
Mick Mahon: Kian Murphy
Eamon’s Mum: Marcella Plunkett
Ngig’s Mum: Vera Nwabuwe
Larry: Conor Hamilton
Garry: Karl Rice
Wayne: Tony Doyle
Barry’s Dad: Keith McErlean
Evan: Peter Campion
Jacinta: Eva-Jane Gaffney
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.