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Stars: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aiden Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna
Director: John Carney
For once the much abused and far too frequently overused “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 offers 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)…
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.
USA 2016. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.
Review date: 10 Aug 2016