Director: John Carney
Writer: John Carney
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ian Kenny, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Mark McKenna
Seen on: 29.5.2016
Dublin in the 1980s. Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and his family aren’t doing too well financially, which is why it is decided that Conor should change from his current school with a hefty fee to one that is publicly funded. Conor is appalled, and sticks out like a sore thumb at his new school. But then Conor sees Raphina (Lucy Boynton), an older and beautiful girl. He knows that he has to get her attention somehow and so simply walks up to her and asks her if she wants to participate in his band’s music video. When she says yes, all that is left to do is form a band, write a song and develop a concept for a music video. No trouble at all.
Sing Street is a very funny and sweet film with nice music. It’s also very much a boy’s vision of how his life is supposed to be and that, unfortunately, includes some poor handling of female characters.
I can imagine that Sing Street is not so much how John Carney actually grew up himself, but how he wished he grew up. There is a certain element of wish fulfilment to Conor and his story, despite all the setbacks he might encounter, that makes that interpretation plausible for me. Conor is a good boy, but he also has a rebellious streak. He is a dreamer, but utterly confident. He is bullied, but he doesn’t really care. He just does his thing. If he had been a female character, people would be clamoring about him being a Mary Sue.
But that idealization is never more apparent than in his relationship with Raphina. He is so special and great, he wins her over, only to then slowly discover that her mysterious air is due to a painful past – and then he whisks her away to a better life. Raphina is barely allowed to be a person, she’s too busy being the idealized boy’s idealized fantasy. Since she is the only female character who gets more than a few lines, that is particularly aggravating.
But if you disregard that part of it, Sing Street is actually very enjoyable. It moves along at a quick pace, has some very nice laughs and great music. If you have at least a bit of love for the music (and the fashion trends) of the 80s, the film is guaranteed to make you smile and bop your ahead along with the beat.
It’s a charming film, that’s for sure, even if you’re not completely into 80s nostalgia. Its heart is in the right place and it is just so earnest that you can’t help but like it. If only it had paid a little more attention to the women in it.