“Sing Street” is the Dublin-set story of fifteen-year-old Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who, partly to cope with the stress of moving to a new school due to his family’s difficult circumstances, and partly to impress a girl – Raphina, an aspiring model, played by Lucy Boynton – decides to put together a band. Since it is 1985, he is heavily influenced by the flashy electro-futurism of Top Of The Pops favourites Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, before things get a little more emotional.
The firm hand of John Carney – the man behind the delightful “Once” – is on the tiller, so the mechanics of music-making are cleverly dealt with; but issues such as marital breakdown, bullying and abusive priests also get a look-in before being superseded by teen romance. The songs – co-written by Carney and bona fide genius Gary Clark (of Danny Wilson fame) - are spot-on, whether they be pop pastiches or serious statements of intent.
The young cast, especially the leads, are charming – although there is a bit of Dublin mumbling which is quite hard to penetrate. Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy (star of “The Commitments”, an obvious touchstone) are reliable presences as Cosmo’s warring parents, and Jack Reynor is particularly poignant as his stoner big brother, who seems to come close to finding some much-needed redemption of his own by acting as guru.
Ultimately a tale about the importance of holding on to your dreams, “Sing Street” isn’t quite the feel-good comedy drama I had been expecting, since it delves into some dark corners. It is a highly rewarding watch, however; and it’s worth once more noting how good the tunes are.