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Sundance Swoons for ‘Once’ Director’s ‘Sing Street’

Sundance Swoons for 'Once' Director's 'Sing Street'

John Carney’s new film “Sing Street” has put a smile on just about every critic’s face coming out of its Sundance premiere. The story of a young Irish teen (dazzling newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who goes to a rough new school and starts a makeshift band in order to impress a girl sets its sights on entertaining the crowd and it succeeds in spades. Director of “Once” and “Begin Again,” Carney has an innate feel for the movie musical, and he brings a palpable sense of joy to the proceedings. Filled with young Irish talent and an indelible soundtrack, “Sing Street” is romantic nostalgia and a rollicking good time, a testament to the power music holds at such a young age, especially when it’s introduced by a cooler older sibling, as well as the seductive feel of rock ‘n’ roll. It will surely entertain audiences in the year to come.

First Reviews of “Sing Street”

Guy Lodge, Variety

He’s no Vincente Minnelli in the visual storytelling department, but no 21st-century filmmaker has a more intuitive understanding of movie-musical construction than Irishman John Carney. After “Once” and “Begin Again” both beautifully unpacked the narrative nature of the songwriting process, he’s back at it with an added dose of 1980s childhood nostalgia in “Sing Street,” a heart-melting adolescent romance that gives teenage garage bands everywhere a better name. Perched on a tricky precipice between chippy kitchen-sink realism and lush wish-fulfilment fantasy, this mini-“Commitments” gets away with even its cutesiest indulgences thanks to a wholly lovable ensemble of young Irish talent and the tightest pop tunes — riffing on Duran Duran and The Cure with equal abandon and affection — any gaggle of Catholic schoolboys could hope to write themselves. Given the right marketing and word of mouth, this Weinstein Co. release could “Sing” a song of far more than sixpence.

Mike Sampson, ScreenCrush

Equally as dynamic as Conor’s budding romance with Raphina is his relationship to his brother Brendan (Reynor), an Irish Seth Rogen-type stoner, who helps his younger brother navigate the treacherous waters of love and music, serving as the inspiration for Conor to start a new life. If the film is a love story, it may prove to be both about platonic love and familial love as a title card at the end notes the film is dedicated to all the brothers out there. “Sing Street” is a sticky sweet rock ‘n roll coming-of-age 80s nostalgia teen romance fairy tale that will have you tapping your toes, dabbing your eyes and calling for an encore. Go ahead, stand up and cheer. You won’t have a better time at the movies this year.

Noel Murray, The Playlist

Frankly, the film’s plot is a little pat. It’s “boy meets girl” crossed with “underdog makes good,” and both its love interest and its oppressive Catholic school milieu are fairly pro forma. Still, as with “Once” and “Begin Again,” Carney makes great use of real locations, showing these boys singing their songs in cramped rooms, school auditoriums, back alleys and by the sea. And those songs are pretty great…maybe a little too great. But then, the mark of a top-shelf rock ‘n’ roll movie is how well it can capture the element of wish fulfillment. It’s entirely possible to hear the meticulously arranged and performed versions of Sing Street’s tunes as just figments of Conor’s imagination. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, Conor plans out a video shoot that goes horribly awry, and Carney quickly cuts away from the dire reality to what Conor had in his head, because the latter is also “real” in its way. What makes “Sing Street” such a joyously entertaining film (besides the songs) is that it thinks the best of its characters, and it presents them the way they’d like to think of themselves. When a kid in Dublin in 1985 picked up a guitar, he wanted to be The Edge. Carney, god bless him, lets it be so.

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