“Sing Street”: The Birth of an Artist & a Young Man
Writer/Director John Carney’s musical dramedy “Sing Street” is his fifth feature after the Oscar-winning /nominated musicals “Once” and “Begin Again”is not only his best film but one of the best films of 2016. It is also a film that I have connected to the most more than any other film I have seen. I have seen great films but I have rarely seen films that touch me in a place that was so personal.
The film’s central story takes place in Ireland in the 1980’s at the height of the New Wave movement when bands like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode were the heroes of many young musicians and artists. It also was during the cultural boom of the music video.
The protagonist the teenage Conor Lalor finds himself going to free state-school, Synge Street where he endures bullying by the school bully and the principal. In order to impress Raphina, a wannabe teen model Connor starts a band in order to put her in their music videos.
What makes the film standout then other films about artists is we see Conor and his bandmates grow through this film. They start out as derivative with their influences on their sleeve and over the film they change their style of music and dress as they discover music to by the end of the film the band and most of all Conor have become original in their art. Carney in this reveals the truth about all artists is we all start out be it musician, writer, filmmaker or painter we start out pastiching and ripping off our influences and working through those influences to be artists with an “original voice”. It also reveals something true of being a teenager, in that experimenting with music and dress is as much a part of growing up as heartbreak and angst.
The relationship of Conor to Raphina as presented by Carney is one that is equally very realistic in the relationship of artist and muse and the ultimate fantasy that your muse reciprocates romantic feelings for you.
Carney’s original songs played in the film along with his choice of source music are brilliant. The upbeat “Drive It Like You Stole It” and the ballad “Up” are Oscar worthy and deserve to be hit singles on the radio now.
I have never felt such a connection towards a film ever in my life. Forget the time period or the Irish setting I knew Conor Lalor walking around with a notebook writing songs and in my own case stories.