Let it be known: writer-director John Carney has firmly established his place as today’s premiere musical filmmaker with his latest toe-tapping comedy-drama “Sing Street” (in theaters nationwide April 29). The new wave infused flick rocks with a stellar synthpop soundtrack packed with familiar hits and energetic/poignant original songs.
In short: While growing up in Dublin during the ’80s, young “Cosmo” forms a band to impress Raphina, an aspiring teen model. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor and Aidan Gillen star. (Watch the trailer)
“Sing Street” is an absolute winner. Taken at face value, this is a coming-of-age teen romance flick — but “Sing Street” succeeds in becoming so much more. Much like Carney’s previous films “Once” and “Begin Again,” this is a moving little flick that discretely becomes a musical before the audience knows what hit them.
Most musicals shoehorn a lame narrative around catchy songs – but Carney elegantly weaves perfectly curated songs to advance its emotionally sincere story. Carney is the master of creating a film that organically integrates invigorating and heartfelt songs while never forgetting that “Sing Street” is first and foremost a character-driven drama. Whereas “Once” and “Begin Again” exclusively featured original music, “Sing Street” brilliantly balances hits from The Cure and A-ha to establish the mid-1980s music vibe while weaving in original songs that resonate with anyone who has suffered through teen angst.
But Carney’s true genius is his ability to craft songs that reflect and express his character’s inner yearnings — because “Sing Street” is firmly grounded in the feelings and aspirations of its two main characters Cosmo and Raphina. This is not merely a story of young love that any jaded viewer can pawn off as fleeting – this is a story of aspirations and potential unrealized. “Sing Street” clearly lays out the greater overall story stakes: Cosmo and Raphina are surrounded by people who had hoped for more in life, yet their self-doubt or lack of followthrough doomed them to lives lived in resentment. Yes this is a film about love and expressing yourself – but it also has a hint of pathos that only prompts Cosmo and Raphina with a sense of urgency.
“Sing Street” is at its best when focused on Cosmo and Raphina, but perhaps its most glaring weakness is in introducing a few too many elements — some of which are not adequately paid off or developed. Cosmos band is made up of a motley crew of six boys — but Cosmo is the only character with much dimension … most of the band is relegated to playing back up for most of the movie. While Cosmo’s slacker/music aficionado brother (Jack Reynor) is a superb supporting character, about the only thing of interest about the rest of Cosmo’s family is his parent’s incessant bickering.
Final verdict: Carney has crafted a charming, charming and irresistible film that ranks among the very best musicals in film since “Once.”
“Sing Street” opens in theaters nationwide April 29. This musical comedy-drama has a running time of 106 minutes and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including strong language and some bullying behavior, a suggestive image, drug material and teen smoking.