“Sing Street”: Another sweetly gentle, music-filled love story from Irish filmmaker John Carney, director of “Once.” 3 stars out of 4.
It’s 1985 Dublin, and young Conor (newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is having a tough time. His family has financial problems; his perpetually arguing parents (Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen) are on the verge of splitting up; he’s being bullied at the rough new school he’s attending; and the pretty 16-year-old girl across the street, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), isn’t looking at him in the way he’d like.
So he does what countless teenagers have done before: He forms a band and writes songs expressing his turbulent emotions. Because it’s the ’80s, this band (“We’re futurist,” Conor explains) is heavily Duran Duran-flavored, as are the dyed hair and makeup Conor starts wearing to school. And yes, the girl notices him — but she turns out to be rather more complicated than Conor could have known.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Sing Street,’ with Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen. Written and directed by John Carney. 106 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including strong language and some bullying behavior, a suggestive image, drug material and teen smoking. Several theaters.
You watch “Sing Street” thinking that Conor grew up and made a movie, but kept his childlike view of things: Many elements of the story, particularly the ending, seem born in a teenage fairy tale. But there’s some welcome quirky humor throughout (I particularly like the kid who’s always carrying a bunny), and Carney has an uncanny way of telling a story through music. “Sing Street” reminds us of being young and lost in a song, realizing with a jolt that someone else had the same feelings we did.
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“Her eyes are like clouds going past the moon,” Conor says about Raphina, trying out lyric poetry; he’s in love not just with her, but with the idea of being an artist, of creating something that he thinks has never existed before. Outlandish ending aside, you wish him well.