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Sing Street


Stars: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aiden Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice, Ian Kenny, Don Wycherley, Lydia McGuinness

Director: John Carney

For once that much abused and far too frequently overused critical trope “feel-good”, is absolutely apt to describe writer-director John Carney’s delightful tale of an Irish teenager who finds an escape in music from his stressed family and school life in 1980s.

Here Carney more than makes up for his over-formulaic 2013 New York-set Keira Knightley/Mark Ruffalo piece Begin Again with a screenplay whose charming fairy-tale-style rites-of-passage elements are made credible thanks to the key performances of the young cast members, notably newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who is funny, moving and, above all, believable as the teenage hero.

Unhappy at home and harassed at his strict Dublin Catholic school where, unable to afford black shoes, Walsh-Peelo is forced to remove his “wrong” footwear and walk in the rain in his socks, and, bullied by his fellow pupils, he recruits a bunch of fellow misfits to create a band in order to impress aspirant model and semi-guilty smoker Lucy Boynton (this is 1985)…

Happily, and as expected, Walsh-Peelo (“I’m a futurist”) and his motley band (named after the school) make it after a series of witty comic scenes, notably when the band members set out to make a promotional tape – “It’s a video. It’s art” and Boynton joins in as the leading lady and, my favourite, when, during their inevitably cut-price school concert sequence, Carney splendidly segues the scene into a full-blooded all-American high-school prom night–style dance.

Carney blends wish fulfillment and the enjoyable pains of adolescent love with credible drama (Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy are excellent as Walsh-Peelo’s bickering parents and Jack Reynor convinces as the lad’s older brother), exuberant character-driven comedy and toe-tapping musical numbers while making sharp points about inevitable hardships at school.

Coming-of-age comedy-dramas don’t come much better or more enjoyable than this serendipitous charmer.

Alan Frank

Ireland/UK/USA 2015. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 May 2016