Nine years after his breakout hit Once, writer/director John Carney makes another musical romance set in Dublin, this time about 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who forms a band to woo 16-year-old Raphina (Lucy Boynton), the mysterious girl living next to his school. Of course, this being 1980s Ireland, the music also ends up a means to rebel against conservatism, bring about change and escape to the world outside.
With a spring in its step, the coming-of-age comedic drama breezes through lovelorn songwriting, adorkable band practices and retro video shoots accompanied by a predictably wonderful soundtrack. While poppy soft-rock jams like “Up”, “A Beautiful Sea” or “Drive It Like You Stole It” might not pack the emotional repower of the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly”, their easy beats and care-free melodies take you right back to that most joyous/angst-fraught period called adolescence, and it’s undeniably glorious.
Beyond such sonic treats, the film is on shakier ground. Conflicts arise then get resolved in ways both oversimplified and formulaic. Gone are the tenderly, almost painfully subtle feelings explored in Carney’s last directorial effort Begin Again (2013). In their stead is something overtly innocent and untoothed throughout, too kid-friendly to leave a mark.
Sing Street | Directed by John Carney (USA, Ireland, UK 2016) with Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton. Starts May 26