After Once and Begin Again, John Carney returns to Ireland for the third of his musical stories. In 1980s Dublin young Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is struggling to adapt to a new school until he meets the beautiful and super-cool Raphina (Lucy Boynton). In an effort to impress her he joins a band, finding he has an unexpected flair for songwriting. Before long he’s reinvented as ‘Cosmo’, star-turn for a flamboyant synth-pop act, and becomes fully immersed in a world of music that transcends all his other family problems.
John Carney’s sojourn in New York for Begin Again may have led to an Oscar nomination for Best Song, but the writer-director felt that something got lost in the transatlantic translation. Back in Dublin his mojo is well and truly returned in a film bursting with heart and soul. There’s an element of nostalgia to its celebration of 1980s culture, but it’s carefully crafted and far from the outright fetishisation we sometimes see on screen. The songs are particularly well crafted, oozing echoes of Duran Duran and The Cure but cannily constructed in their own right (former Danny Wilson frontman Gary Clark was a co-writer). Sharing some of spirit of The Commitments (though with different musical styles) Sing Street is a funny, smart and utterly charming film that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling.