It’s been a while since I have written a review, and perhaps I was just looking for something inspirational to get me into the mood. Whatever the reason, it was the movie Sing Street that did it.
Sing Street is an Irish film directed by John Carney and might just be one of the most underseen greats of 2016 so far. It has all the elements of a bigger movie, and for me hits that sweet spot of coming of age, music, and fun. If you have enjoyed movies such as Almost Famous and School of Rock, you’ll love this.
I have been watching a lot of older or more serious movies lately, including trying to fix a blind spot I have around Hitchcock. Sometimes a movie comes along and just reminds you how much fun you can have enjoying a good movie. Not in the overly stylized and slick way that a Marvel movie is fun, I mean just a brilliantly simple way a good story unfolds. There are a few things about Sing Street that elevate it from the level of Garden State to the level of much more respect like Almost Famous, and that is the evolution of the family that surrounds the main character and the story of finding your way in a world that is not always aligned with your goals. And the music it great. I mean it, really outstanding original music combined with good discussion of a certain flavor of European 80’s rock and roll.
Ok, obligatory synopsis time. When we meet our main character he is at the breakfast table with is family, dad, mom, brother and sister.
The brother and sister perhaps give the best hint of what themes the director is trying to emphasis. Throughout the movie the older brother spends a lot of effort encouraging his younger counterpart to follow his musical passion and believe in himself. He gives him lots of advice about growing up and girls, and we watch as the sister, who is only on screen for a hand full of moments, keeps mostly to herself. She is often reading or studying. About halfway through the movie there is a scene where the older siblings are discussing ‘vocations’ and the giving up on dreams as you get older. The sister, despite being mocked early on for giving up her art, questions quite confidently the notion that the architecture degree she is pursuing is somehow a sellout. The older brother says ‘that’s not a vocation’. He has not given up on his music, but he has not gotten on with it either. The sister represents how many people evolve, from flights of fancy to teenage passions to professional disciplines. Sometimes this is a linear progression, for many it is not, but it is still how a lot of people move through the stages of learning and growing up. At the end of the movie the parents make it known their intentions of getting divorced, and this pushes the older brother over the edge, to the point of having a break down where he reveals that basically blazed the trail for his younger brother, and everything is he is accomplishing is somehow owed to him. It’s selfish, and it’s weak. It does nothing to lift himself up and everything to tear his brother down. He represents the comfortable way we cling to the familiar at the expense of evolution.
The movie ends a bit on the nose as the younger brother and his new girl take a small boat to London (greater things) and are almost crushed by a bigger boat but then ride comfortably in its wake (ala the big brother). Unlike some of the more clichéd movies with similar endings (Fundamentals of Caring, Garden State) it feels a little more earned here. So far, I think this is one of my favorite movies of the year. It moves at a great pace, the story is solid and consistent, the acting it pretty good, and the music straight rocks.