Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Sing Street

July 25th, 2016

Sing Street - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand

Sing Street

Sing Street opened with better buzz than most limited releases earn. It also did relatively well at the box office peaking in 12th place and finishing with just over $3 million. Did this film benefit from the relatively light competition this Spring? Or is it good enough that it should have been released this Fall to compete during Awards Season?

The Movie

The film takes place in North Ireland in the mid-1980s. It’s not a good time for the country and a lot of people are leaving for London in hopes of a better future. One such family that is suffering is the Lalor family. The film begins with the father and mother having what sounds like a marriage ending argument. However, their youngest son, Conor is merely singing along with the fight while playing his guitar, so clearly this isn’t the first fight like this they’ve had. The next day, there’s a family meeting and the father explains that they have to cut expenses and education is the biggest single expense, even after the older brother, Brendan, dropped out of college. Conor will be taken out of his private school and forced to go to the Synge Street public school.

Conor’s first day at school isn’t what he would have liked. He gets in trouble with the principal for not having the right color shoes and the school bully decides Conor will be his target for the year. After his run in with the bully, Conor meets Darren, who offers to help him with his bully problem. Conor also sees Ralphina by the school. Despite a warning from Darren that she doesn’t speak to anyone, he goes over to talk to her. When she says she’s a model, he asks if she wants to be in his video, for his band. She’s intrigued, but before agreeing to anything, she asks Conor to sing for her. Fortunately Conor can sing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a band. Darren does know someone who can play practically every instrument, Eamon. They will need a couple of additional members to form a band... and some damn lessons in cultural sensitivity, but that’s... wow. Was the 1980s really that long ago?

A few more members join and they name the band Sing Street. But can a band that was formed just so one guy would have an excuse to talk to a pretty girl be any good?

Sing Street was written and directed by John Carney, who previously made Begin Again and Once, both of which relied heavily on music. This brings us to the first issue I have with the movie. It’s not original. It’s not original, as it bears some similarities to The Commitments, which is also about the formation of an Irish band. It’s not original within John Carney’s career. However, originality is often times overrated. A familiar story with top-notch execution is much better than something unique, but half-baked. This film is the former, as it is right in the middle of John Carney’s talent pool.

The young cast also are excellent, especially considering their experience. None of the actors who play the band members have more than a couple of previous roles, while for some this is their first film role. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have much in the way of character development. (I didn’t mention the names of three of the band members, and frankly, I can’t remember the names of two of them. This is not a slight against the actors, but the script doesn’t help them stand out.) Conor obviously has the biggest character arc, but Ralphina has more depth to her than a lot of other movies would have treated that character. When the band is filming its first video, she’s the one who takes care of their image and knows enough about lighting and how they would look on video. Brendan is also a really engaging character as the older brother who has lost his way, but still acts as a mentor for Conor.

One final note, and this really doesn’t need to be said, but the music is fantastic. I’m definitely going to pick up the soundtrack. Granted, I grew up in the 1980s, so the songs have a lot of nostalgia for me, even the new ones. The new songs fit into the feel and sound of the 80s so well.

The Extras

Extras include a five-minute making of featurette, a three-minute look at the music, and finally there are audition tapes for all of the band. It’s not a lot of extras, but its enough for a limited release.

The Verdict

Sing Street isn’t the most original movie I’ve seen recently, but the execution is excellent on all levels. The script is fun, the actors excellent, and the music is worth owning. The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are a little light, but it is still Pick of the Week material. Hopefully it will be remembered this Awards Season.

Filed under: Video Review, Sing Street, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Don Wycherley, John Carney, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna