“Sing Street”

“Sing Street” is the title of a sweet,  Irish film and the title of a learn-as- you-go band that gives creative play to a few of Dublin ‘s youth. With a rather slow start, we are introduced to Conor ( Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) , a 14 -year- old, and his  nurturing brother , Brendan , who is six years older and smart beyond his years. He understands their parents’ history and current circumstance.

Mom is having an affair with her boss, contemplating divorce and dreaming of a Spanish holiday. Dad has not worked in a year and is depressed, angry and inattentive. Brendan sees that Conor is not getting the support he needs, and he steps up- later to hysterical and romantic results, as Conor and  Raphina  cross the English Channel in a cruise ship’s wake.

Brendan explains his own lack of momentum to Conor. “Our parents married at nineteen because they were Catholic and wanted to have sex. ”

Brendan, too, believes he has “extracted himself  from the wreckage”. ” I macheted the path…you ( Conor) moved in my jet stream.”  His own powerful anger is channeled into helping Conor with the older girl Conor has become infatuated with~ Raphina, played wonderfully by Lucy Boynton.

The relationship between big bro and struggling  sib is my favorite part. In fact, the final epigram ” For Brothers Everywhere” reaffirms the importance of this relationship in the film. Jack Reynor is superb in showing  the self-understanding  that young adults obtain and then go on to analyze every other member of the family.

Brendan parents Conor, as only a revered, older brother can. It is sweet and humorous to hear Conor re-mouth Brendan’s every word. At one point when Conor relates, ” my brother says”, the orphaned Raphina smiles, “You talk about him a lot.  You must really love him.”As for Conor’s challenged and struggling parents, Raphina offers up, “parents~ it’s a strange kind of love.” What teen would not concur ?!  When Brendan yells, ” Once, I was a fucking jet engine” , I was moved. I wanted to yell back, ” But you still can be, you are twenty -years -old.”

“Sing Street” is a “Sesame Street” for fourteen-year-olds, or for any boy who can remember being shocked into love by a female image. Dreams, bullying,  and forming a pack , and first love, and rebellion are the segment headings. I loved the strength of Conor as he tells the one bully who orders him to pull down his trousers and dance that he is not doing that. Later, Conor tells the same bully that “you only have the power to stop things, not to create”. While the Christain Brothers show their medieval heritage, the Jesuits are lauded for their academic push.

John Carney of ” Once” fame directs this, his third film. The actors are good ; the sound not as clear as it could have been. The cockney accent of one of the band members was close to impossible to translate. I know I was not the only member of the audience to miss a few lines.

The cinematography is truly second rate~ often grayed and hazy for no purpose. The dream sequences ironically were not cued. The  whole film’s filter seems wrong and amateurish. The images – oh-hum, except for the slow motion walk of the band as they stride out one by one.

The writing, in contrast,  was grand. Conor’s phrases ” cherry -ice -cream -smile ” and ” dangerous eyes” and “the riddle of a model” are  age appropriate. “The day I started crawling I was on my way to find you ” very sweet. ” I don’t believe in destiny. All beliefs begin to cave in.” are  lines of teen angst. I loved the line where the only  band boy who could play every and any instrument and was often seen holding one of his pet rabbits simply answered Conor’s ” What are you doing?” with ” just rabbit stuff”.

The music of the ’80’s does not resonate with me, but it did with the audience. Duran, Duran and Iggy Pop are mostly just names I recall. The theme that music matters and is a powerful force in unleashing emotion is a major theme.

Lucy  Boynton is wonderful as the girl who ” lifts me ( Conor) up”. She renames him ” Cosmo” and is moved to tears by his adulation. She teaches him that love is ” Happy/ Sad “. As Conor’s muse, she has bruises of her own which the Kirwin Home For Girls has not protected her from. And, as for Conor, (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) you will not forget his exhilaration  as he captains his own boat. See and celebrate youth.


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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over thirteen hundred comments to date, and over three hundred films reviewed.

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