Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sing Street Review

It's not very often that a movie comes around that I don't know anything about. I'm usually pretty good at following movie news pretty closely and I even dedicate a post a month on this blog to telling you what's coming out. But occasionally there comes a little indie movie that sneaks its way into theaters without me having noticed. Sing Street is one of these movies. I didn't know Sing Street was a thing until it showed up in five theaters a month ago with a pretty decent per theater average. Since then, it slowly expanded into more theaters until this past weekend when it showed up in my local theater. It had great reviews, so I put it on my mental list of movies that I want to see. But for some reason it still wasn't super high on my priority list of movies to catch up on. Then I walked by a poster after I got out of Money Monster. "From the director of Begin Again." Holy, yes! I loved that movie. Suddenly I found myself in the theater the next day watching Sing Street. I didn't bother looking up a trailer or a premise at all. I had all I needed. Great reviews and from the director of Begin Again. And yes, I absolutely loved this movie. If you need a break from summer blockbusters and want to see a phenomenal little film, go see Sing Street.

I went into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it. If you want to take me on my word alone that this movie is amazing, feel free to close down this review and head out to your theater. For the rest of you that need to know what the heck this movie is about before you decide to go see it, let's dive in. No spoilers, of course, but I need to tell you something about it for me to give a review. Sing Street follows a 15-year-old kid named Connor (later nicknamed Cosmo) who lives in Dublin, Ireland in the 1980's. His family situation is kinda broken. His parents don't get along, they're very poor, and his brother is a college dropout that lives with them. Because of this, he is forced to go to this new school that's really kinda crappy. He gets bullied a lot, few people want to be his friend, and the schoolmaster is strict and rude. Long story short, life kinda sucks. But then he makes one friend and they're walking down the street and Connor sees a girl. His social skills aren't amazing, especially around females, so he walks up to her and starts one of those awkward conversations and quickly learns she is a model. So he, trying to act cool, tells her that he is in a band and they are looking for a model to show up in one of their music videos. She accepts the invitation and gives him her number. Then of course he walks back to his new friends and says, "We need to start a band."

That's what this movie is. It's a musical drama that uses music to teach great life lessons. The director is John Carney and as I previously stated, his most recent movie he directed was Begin Again, which was released in theaters in 2014. If you haven't seen Begin Again, you need to. If you have, Sing Street follows pretty much the same formula. Begin Again was about a struggling producer and a struggling singer who meet up when both of them are close to throwing in the towel. They make music together that really saves both of their lives. In fact, the initial title of the movie was Can a Song Save Your Life?, which is definitely the theme of the movie. I approve of the simpler title, but I love the idea. I love music and I have a very strong opinion that music can be a means of saving lives. In fact, music is a very powerful thing that can influence a lot of different aspects of life and thus I can love a movie that shows that. Yes, Sing Street does just that. Just like Begin Again. This kid's life sucks. Although him starting the band was motivated by him trying to get the girl, he definitely embraces his new band and uses it to get past whatever trails he is facing. He does have a musical background. His brother is huge into music and helps him a lot along they way. They are influenced a lot by such bands as Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, which were big at the time.

You can call this a romance drama if you want. You can call it a coming of age story. You can call it a movie about life in general. It's really all of those and thus if you like any of those types of movies, you need to check this out. It had me captivated from the opening scene and I was completely enveloped in this story the whole time. The pacing was perfect for me as never once did I feel bored. I thought the story was beautiful and I really enjoyed watching this group of kids start up this band and progress. At first they are really bad and the main kid's brother is good at being blatantly honest about it. But their progression of their music throughout the movie is impressive as they find their groove and style. By the end, I was loving their music and thus I thought the soundtrack of the movie was phenomenal. All this new music they wrote was great and it was sprinkled with some 80's classics that I love. Along with the progression of the band itself, I really liked all the individual character arcs in the movie. As I've said, our main kid is in a really tough situation and I love how he uses music to make it through. But I also really love the progression of our main female character. Initially she appears to be this attractive young female who has things figured out. But then you get to learn more about her and she's also in a tough situation with a lot of insecurities. Then you have the band members, the brother, the bully, and others whose stories weave together very well.

Begin Again had the advantage of a all-star cast leading the charge. Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo were our main two, but we also had Adam Levine in his first acting role and side characters that included Hailee Steinfeld and James Corden. All of these are people that I really love and thus it was easy to get behind the story. It was fun to see Keira Knightley in her first singing role and Adam Levine in his first acting role. Sing Street doesn't have that advantage. The most recognizable name in this is Jack Reynor as the brother, who starred in Transformers: Age of Extinction and Macbeth and was also one of the final candidates to play Han Solo before Alden Ehrenrich. But as far as recognizable names, that's it. The rest of this cast is a bunch of newcomers. At least to me. But man, all of these young kids were fantastic! I could start name dropping here, but I'll just limit this to our main two, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as Connor and Lucy Boynton as the main girl, whose name is Raphina. This is the first time I've seen these two, but because of how great they were in this, I'm going to be watching their careers because I would say based on this, they both could have a bright future ahead of them. And of course, in casting a whole bunch of unknowns that end up being great, there has to be a lot of credit given to the casting director for finding them and the director making it work. Great job all around.

Overall, if you are like me and you love indie movies, this is one you need to see. If you love music and you are always searching for the next good musical drama, this is one you need to see. If you love romance dramas, this is one you need to see. If you love coming of age stories, this is one you need to see. If you love movies that teach great life lessons, this is one you need to see. If you like inspirational movies, this is one you need to see. Sing Street is all of that wrapped together beautifully. If you all you care to see are big summer blockbusters, then I'd encourage you to branch out a bit and give something like this a try. I enjoy my superhero movies and my big action flicks as well, but the more I've watched and reviewed movies, the more I've learned personally that these smaller films are where it's at. A lot of people these days complain at the lack of originality in Hollywood. While I won't argue that point, I do notice that a lot of these same people refuse to dive into the indie market where there actually is a ton of originality. There's a lot of hidden gems that come out every year that go mostly unnoticed by the general public and Sing Street is one of those. Captain America: Civil War probably made more in a few hours that Sing Street has in its entire run so far, but both movies are deserving of your attention. So branch out and see Sing Street. You'll be glad you did. I'm giving the movie a 9/10.

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