Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sing Street

Directed by John Carney and screenplay by Carney from a story by Carney and Simon Carmody, Sing Street is the story of a teenage boy who falls in love with a girl who is a few years older than her as he decides to impress by forming a band. The film is a coming-of-age film set in 1980s Dublin at a time when the indie music scene is thriving as a boy tries to win the heart of a girl through music. Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, and Aiden Gillen. Sing Street is a charming and entertaining film from John Carney.

Set in 1985 Dublin, the film follows a 15-year old boy who is transferred to a new school where he meets a 16-year old girl and falls for her by claiming he’s in a band which he would form to impress her. The film definitely play into a period in time where so much is happening with popular music in the 1980s as this young kid is trying to find his place in the world as he’s encouraged by his older brother to make music to win over this girl as well as find an outlet in this stifling environment through the school he’s forced to attend as well as dealing with his parents who are on the verge of splitting up. John Carney’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the situation that the protagonist Conor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is in as it relates to financial issues within the family that forces him to attends a public school and deal with some of the way things are as well as his family life which is in disarray as his eldest brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) would introduce him to different kinds of music as well as comment about his own failures and observation about their parents.

When Conor meets this beautiful girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton), he would lie to her about being in a band as he would meet a fellow student in Darren (Ben Carolan) who would introduce him a talented multi-instrumentalist in Eamon (Mark McKenna). Through Eamon, Conor would learn to write songs as they would get other students to be part of their band and Raphina, who is an aspiring model, would be their ingénue who would appear in their videos. Though Raphina has a boyfriend, she would begin a relationship with Conor as she would be his muse as well as give him a new name in Cosmo. It would play into Conor’s own development as well as revelations about why Brendan hasn’t gone through with his own aspirations into being a musician as he and Conor, along with their sister Ann (Kelly Thornton), are dealing with the growing split from their parents (Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy). The growing turmoil in Conor’s family life as well as his own growing pains would give Conor ideas for songs as he would ultimately get the chance to play these songs to the kids in Dublin.

Carney’s direction is quite straightforward as it does have a few wide shots yet Carney chooses to go for more simplistic compositions with the usage of close-ups and medium shots. Shot on location in Dublin with much of it set in the area near the Synge Street CBS high school, the film does play into this world of the 1980s where there is a clash between the old ways and the new ways in some respects. Especially as Carney makes it aware of Conor’s own alienation as he’s first seen wearing brown shoes as the requirement of the school is to wear black shoes as he gets into some trouble with its headmaster Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley). Carney also uses the 80s as inspiration for some of the visuals such as the music videos Conor and his band known as Sing Street would create as it is amateurish but also quite lively. Especially as there’s a great scene of Conor’s own imagination for a video to express what could’ve been but has to face with the realities of his own life as well as the fact that Raphina isn’t some perfect ingénue. Yet, Carney does make the film show what can be done in the face of adversity which can create great art if that person can express it and not be afraid to fail. Overall, Carney creates an engaging yet exhilarating film about a teenage boy creating music to win over a girl.

Cinematographer Yaron Orbach does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the natural look of the daytime exteriors to the usage of low-key lights for the scenes at night including the climatic school dance scene. Editors Andrew Marcus and Julian Ulrichs do nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in terms of presenting the drama and some of the humor while finding the right rhythms for the film’s musical moments. Production designer Alan Macdonald and art director/set decorator Tamara Conboy do fantastic work with the look of the some of the interior of the schools as well as some of the cheap set design for some of the homemade music videos Sing Street would make. Costume designer Tiziana Corvisieri does brilliant work with the look of the costumes from the clothes the band would wear for the videos as well as the stylish clothing of Raphina.

Makeup artist Barbara Conway and hairstylist Sandra Kelly do terrific work with the look of the characters from the makeup the band would wear in the videos as well as Raphina’s unique look as well as the hairstyle of the mid-80s which was big. Visual effects supervisor Paddy Eason does some fine work with the visual effects as it’s mainly some bit of set-dressing including a key aspect of the film’s ending as well as some of the shoddy look of the homemade music videos. Sound editors Niall Brady and Michelle Fingleton do amazing work with the sound in the way the instruments are heard naturally as well as the presentation of music including the way it is mixed to drown out the loud argument Conor’s parents are having in some scenes. Original music by Gary Glarck and John Carney is wonderful for its mixture of folk and post-punk to play into the evolution of the music as it has elements of pop while the original songs they create that include contributions from Glen Hansard and Adam Levine that bring some liveliness and earnestness to those songs while music supervisor Becky Bentham provides a fun soundtrack that feature music from Genesis, A-ha, the Cure, the Clash, Spandau Ballet, the Jam, M, Duran, Hall & Oates, Joe Jackson, and Motorhead.

The casting by Louise Kiely is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Lydia McGuinness as the school’s very liberal art teacher, Ian Kenny as the school bully Barry, Conor Hamilton and Karl Rice in their respective roles as the rhythm section brothers of Larry and Garry, Percy Chamburuka as the African-Irish teen Ngig who is the band’s keyboardist, Kelly Thornton as Conor’s older sister Ann who is dealing with her college education and family struggles, and Don Wycherley in a terrific performance as the school’s headmaster Brother Baxter who watches over Conor as he would try to make the boy’s life hellish. Ben Carolan is superb as Darren as a young student who has the skills to get connections as he is eager to become a manager while Mark McKenna is fantastic as Eamon as a talented musician who would help Conor write some songs as well as encourage him to go into deeper places with the music.

Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy are excellent in their respective roles as Conor’s parents Robert and Penny Lawlor as a couple who are on the rocks with Gillen dealing with the financial trouble he’s put towards his family while Penny would work overtime creating suspicion over why she’s home late. Jack Reynor is brilliant as Conor’s older brother Brendan as a college dropout/stoner who would introduce Conor to all types of music and guide him on what music could do as a way to live through his younger brother and give him the chance that he never got. Lucy Boynton is amazing as Raphina as an aspiring model at the age of 16 with an older boyfriend who is eager to go to London as she becomes Conor’s muse as she also cope with wanting to make it as she also has to deal with some of the realities of the world. Finally, there’s Ferdia Walsh-Peelo in an incredible performance as Conor “Cosmo” Lawlor as a 15-year old kid who is trying to find himself as well as impress this girl where he would eventually find his own voice as well as take the opportunity to make something of himself as it’s very naturalistic and charming performance from Walsh-Peelo.

Sing Street is a sensational film from John Carney. Featuring a great ensemble cast, amazing music, a riveting story, and a colorful look. It’s a film that captures a moment in time where kids try to use music to express themselves with the aid of an older person trying to help them reach that dream. In the end, Sing Street is a remarkable film from John Carney.

John Carney Films: (On the Edge) - Once - (Zonad) – Begin Again

© thevoid99 2017


Dell said...

I really had a good time watching this. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. Thank a really good screenplay without that one. And you're right. The music is fantastic.

Brittani Burnham said...

This was a wonderful little film. I'm glad you liked it! They were robbed of a Best Original Song Oscar.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-It was a surprise and the music was such a joy to hear as it's the music that I grew up listening to as a kid.

@Brittani-I totally agree with you that they were robbed. La La Land maybe the better film but I like the songs in this film even more.