Throughout his directorial career, John Carney has been fascinated by the life-changing effects of music as well as the complicated relationship between one’s personal life and artistic aspirations. Take Once, the Oscar-winning 2007 film that chronicled the collaboration between two struggling musicians in Dublin. Or look closer at Begin Again, which starred Mark Ruffalo as a down-on-his-luck record producer and Keira Knightley as the vocalist that helps him find the will to start over. Carney’s latest film, Sing Street, explores similar thematic terrain as those two films, albeit through the prism of a 1980s schoolboy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who starts a band to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton). We’ve already shared our thoughts about one of the year’s worst films. So now let’s investigate why Sing Street may very well be the best film of 2016 (at least so far).
The music is fantastic
One would hope that, since music is so essential to Sing Street, the film would feature some outstanding tunes. Luckily, Carney teamed with 1980s veteran composer Gary Clark to create some original songs that will undoubtedly leave audiences heading straight to iTunes to download the soundtrack. Sure, it also has indelible classics by Duran Duran, The Cure, and other bands. But let’s face it: you’ll really want the Sing Street soundtrack for “Drive It Like You Stole It,” “To Find You” and “Up.” You might even be inspired to start a band of your own.
The charming cast (including standout Jack Reynor)
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo takes the film’s lead role as Conor “Cosmo” Lalor, who escapes his troubled home life through music. However, the promising young star is far from the only breakout in Sing Street. Lucy Boynton makes an impression as the de facto leading lady, while Ben Carolan and Mark McKenna lend memorable support as two key members of the film’s titular band. Still, it is Jack Reynor — whose acting talent was apparently wasted in Transformers: Age of Extinction — that steals the film as Conor’s big brother. His heartfelt, meaningful performance is seriously worthy of awards consideration.
The nostalgia factor
In addition to the addictive original songs in Sing Street, the film taps into the 1980s with pop culture references to music and events of the day as well as all the era-appropriate fashion one could possibly want. For moviegoers who lived through the decade, Carney’s film is like a welcome trip down memory lane, exploring the ways in which new wave and punk rock influenced those who grew up surrounded by it. Sure, its depiction of the 1980s may be filtered through rose-colored glasses, but that very fact underscores the film’s upbeat perspective on adolescence and the promise of something beyond it.
A universally relatable original story
At its core, Sing Street is a coming-of-age tale about a young youth coming to grips with reality and discovering who he is through the art of self-expression. Whether or not moviegoers are musically inclined, the notion that one yearns for something more in life is something we can all relate to. Everyone wants to be special, to feel like the world is simply waiting for him or her to pursue their dreams and make them a reality. Sing Street is all about that, and sometimes that starts with wanting to win over someone’s heart.
A positive, youthful energy that captures pure cinematic joy
More than anything, Sing Street deserves to be commended simply because of how much fun it is. Though the film doesn’t shy away from the melancholy parts of youth, it is aggressively optimistic and is damn near guaranteed to leave viewers with a smile. Hope emerges as the film’s ultimate message, and while so many film critics debate over whether or not other releases are too lightweight or too grim to tell their stories effectively, Sing Street shamelessly embraces the power of cinema to elicit joy and inspires moviegoers to believe that they too can accomplish the impossible.
What did you think of Sing Street, and what’s your favorite film of 2016 to date? Tell us in the comments section below!