WHAT: Set in Dublin in the mid-1980s when the music video was still a fresh concept and Duran Duran dominated MTV, Sing Street is a movie musical about a 14-year-old named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who starts a band to impress Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a slightly older and more streetwise teenager who lives across the street from the all-boys Catholic school he attends.
WHO: Irish director John Carney wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical film. He has a knack for producing engaging low-budget indie musicals with original music. To wit: His film Once about a couple of buskers won an Oscar in 2007 for Best Original Song, and Begin Again, which focused on a singer/songwriter and a music executive, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2011. Carney wrote the original music for Sing Street with Gary Clark and Glen Hansard.
WHY WE CARE: Sing Street, which opens in theaters on April 15 and got a lot of love when it made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, gets everything so right that the film actually feels like it was made in the ’80s. If you grew up during that decade and remember when Duran Duran dominated MTV, guyliner was in vogue, and piles of cassettes littered everyone’s bedroom floor, this film will take you on a joyful trip down memory lane. And if you missed out on the era, you will see why it was so creative, fun and sometimes ridiculous as Conor and his dorky bandmates imitate everyone from Duran Duran to The Cure while trying to find their look and sound. The band of misfits make a hilarious attempt at shooting their own music video, and Carney turns their first live performance at a school dance into a lively homage to the prom scene in Back to the Future. The excellent cast includes Orphan Black‘s Maria Doyle Kennedy as Conor’s mom and Game of Thrones‘ Aiden Gillen as his dad. Jack Reynor is a standout in the role of Conor’s older brother Brendan, a clever college dropout who argues with their dad about the merits of the music video and schools his kid brother in music, uttering truths like, “No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins.”