If, like me, you came of age during the 80s, you will love ‘Sing Street.’ Set in depressed Dublin of 1985, we see droves of Irish people migrating to London because of dire economic conditions. Cut to Conor, 15 years old. His parents are having a tough time financially, so he has to transfer from his posh school to a more menacing Christian Brothers-run institution. (funny, because it seems everywhere else, a Christian brothers school is the posh school, says Jesuit-educated me) He becomes bullied not only by the school blowhard, but also by the principal. At home, tensions are heightened as well. His parents are fighting every night, and his only solace is listening to music with his elder brother Brandon, and watching that newfound invention called the music video. And he becomes enamored with a young girl a year older, who she invites to star in his music video. Problem is, he doesn’t really have a band so he forms one. I was attracted to this movie because of John Carney, the director, who previously did ‘Once,’ and ‘Begin Again.’ Just like in his earlier movies, the music here becomes a character in itself – the music of the generation (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Genesis) seeps throughout the movie, and becomes integral in telling the film’s story.
I think a lot of us will be able to identify with Conor. During that time in my life as well, I used music as an escape, only my tunes of choice were from original Cast Recordings and Barbra Streisand. It speaks to its power – how music comfort us, transforms us to another world, carries us as we achieve our dreams. I loved Conor’s transition, as he becomes aware of the different kinds of music of the day: the glam rock of Duran, the techno melancholy of The Cure, the assured aggressiveness of punk. We see him gain his confidence as he gets to know himself better. We see him falling in love, and become a young man before our eyes. Apparently, this film is partly based on his own life story, and all I can say is that it is not only well-lived, but well-scored.