Sing Street (2016)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2016) Is it still a sleeper if everyone who talks about a film says it’s a sleeper? I wasn’t planning on watching Sing Street, but the word on the web was nearly unanimous: It’s a great little movie! You’ll never expect it! Sleeper hit of the year! High praise, overwhelming hype, low expectations: Whatever you call it, Sing Street is, indeed, a really good film that’s flying under the radar of a lot of people. It doesn’t start promisingly, mind you: Set in Dublin during the recession of the 1980s, Sing Street begins as financial and marital difficulties force a couple to send their son to a cheaper school. Humiliation is soon added to our protagonist’s troubles, but he refuses to let himself down. With the intention of impressing a girl, he soon starts a band and ransacks the pop culture of the time for inspiration. From unpromising beginnings, Sing Street soon acquires a comfortable cruising speed as the band works well together and leads to bigger and bigger things. Remarkably enough, you can see the evolution of the fictional band as they discover and integrate various sounds in their style. The soundtrack is very good, both for the licensed songs (Motörhead! The Clash! Robin Scott!) and for the original ones. “Drive it Like You Stole it,” in particular, is as good as any pop song can be—and it underscores the film’s best sequence as well. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is very likable in the main role, with Lucy Boynton playing a multilayered love interest. Writer/director John Carney knows what he’s doing and delivers a conventional but well-executed film. I have a few quibbles abound the ending, which takes place on an oneiric escape level that’s not quite satisfying, but by that time Sing Street has left its positive impact: It’s a charming film, a decent spiritual successor to The Commitments, and the kind of small discovery that you recommend to friends for years to come.

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