SING STREET [2016]

340

Directed by John Carney

Written by John Carney

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle KennedyJack Reynor


I was looking forward to this movie, as I usually love any movie that explores music and the bands behind it. However, this movie fails to explore music in any artistic sense; I should have realised this from the tag-line of the film:

“Boy meets girl, girl unimpressed, boy starts band.”

Ugh.

The premise of forming a band to impress a girl rubbed me the wrong way instantly. The movie explores the realms of song-writing, but to a very, very limited level. The film also almost completely neglects the important element of band members, how they interact, how their personalities clash or gel with others. Are we supposed to believe that all these random people all got along, with no replacing of musicians? No arguments over creative direction?

I realise this is a movie, and yes they are teenagers, but in the real world, good music doesn’t work that way. This movie preaches some of the worst things about being in a band, like it is ‘cool’, or something to brag about. Music is an outlet for creativity, for pain, for emotion. It is the universal language that can connect any two people from any part of the world. You won’t find any of this in the movie though.

The opening scene had me thinking this was going to comment on music and the process of moving from the bedroom to the stage, as we begin with Cosmo, the aspiring ‘musician’, recording himself singing as we hear what I assume are his parents arguing in the background. It is a poignant scene, and I was looking forward to more. The rest of the film though is a romantic comedy wrapped in the façade of being a movie about music.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some excellent dialogue, especially when Cosmo’s brother opens up and tells his brother that he has stopped smoking hash for two days because he hasn’t done anything with his life. That hit me hard, especially as I will be 30 soon and in a similar position to Cosmo’s brother. It is also especially well delivered by Jack Reynor. The music is excellent too, matching the era the movie is set in perfectly. The song “Drive It Like You Stole It” is a great tune.

But, I still can’t shake the fact that this film only explores the light side of music, of playing in a band, that dream to play on stage one day. It is uneven, it doesn’t explore the dark corners of the subject matter, it doesn’t delve into the concept of a band; that is, several people all being on the same page, creatively as well as rhythmically.

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Personality should also play a big role, but in this movie it is almost non-existent. All the band members are bland people who aren’t memorable in any way, and they all got together very continently. The band even resort to asking a black kid from their school! Because, you know, black people can play music. Not only is this racist and poorly written, but it is something that belongs in a South Park episode.

Cosmo starts the film as a pretty bland kid, which was the intention I am sure, but Ferdia Walsh-Peelo didn’t convince me that much had changed by the end of the movie. The girl likes his music, and that is about it. His aforementioned brother is great, and is easily the best character, but he doesn’t get much screen-time. A pity, as he is the only memorable character in the entire movie.

If I can continue my rant, and I will; for a movie whose premise is that a guy pretends to be in a band just to get a girl, which is what this is and nothing more, I find it odd that the girl in question isn’t particularly interesting. She is pretty, of course! But she is just another fake person to go along with Cosmo’s cardboard band-mates; all of them only there simply because the film says so, none of them memorable, none have anything interesting to say.

This girl’s connection with Cosmo doesn’t mean much when both parties have personalities that rival that of grey brick walls.


But hey, I can certainly see why folks like this flick. It is funny at times, it is light-hearted, and great for a relaxing watch. The music is fantastic too. But two beerI was very unimpressed with the premise of creating a band to be cool. That is my problem, and I realise that, but because of it I couldn’t stop finding flaws in the scenes where the band members are together. It depicts song-writing and making it to the stage as being a simple thing. Ask any seasoned musician and they will tell you that this notion is complete horse-shit. And ultimately that is what ruins this film: it is incredibly unrealistic. This isn’t sci-fi, it is a movie about real subject, and it treats that subject with incredible disrespect.

Two beers out of a sixer, ‘cos the music was decent.

2/6

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31 Comments on “SING STREET [2016]

  1. Oh dear! I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, as I really liked it and had a smile on my face throughout! I’ve never been in a band but I thought it captured the initial stages and excitement of getting into music / finding a hobby as a teenager really well, which is something I can relate to on a more general level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I’m totally aware this is my problem, having tried to start so many bands have really warped my vision of this flick, and music in general. But that is me, I’m sure most people won’t even think about then crap I’m thinking of

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think he starts the band to get this girl’s attention initially but he learns a lot about how writing songs can be an outlet to express his feelings on poverty,bullying, and his parents’ divorce.

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    • I agree with you totally. I guess it is cos I’ve been struggling to get on stage for years, and this movie depicts the process as so simple!!

      Th I guess they were playing pop music so there is that. Pop sells

      Like

  3. Ah man it’s a shame Sing Street didn’t work at all for ya man. But you bring an interesting perspective to the table. I haven’t really ever watched John Carney’s movies thinking about how people actually in the industry might interpret his take on how music brings people together. It’s always been my impression that music can do so many different things for a lot of different people, so it’s important to keep an open mind but if a movie about music doesn’t do anything that’s a fault of the movie and the filmmakers, not a flaw of the viewer.

    When you make a movie about music, you’re kind of opening yourself up to a whole new wave of possible criticism. Enjoying movies is a subjective thing, as is enjoying a movie. I want to see this but I’ll keep your concerns in mind for sure as I watch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I certainly seem in the minority man, it just felt like the experiences they all went through felt unrealistic compared to what I’ve experienced. The characters weren’t all that interesting either.

      But then again, I’m not playing a hugely popular style of music so there is that. Plus I don’t like the idea of being in a band to be cool. This movie doesn’t preach that message really, but it still feels there and I get tired of people who think they are the shit just because they play in a band. I know too many people who are like that.

      I’m sure you’ll dig this man, give it a shot for sure. 🙂

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  4. Awwww bummer man, I LOVE this one!! “The premise of forming a band to impress a girl rubbed me the wrong way instantly.” Ahah, well that’s tough I guess if you’re already sort of predisposed to disliking it because of the premise. I actually thought it’s kind of sweet and as someone prone to crushes since I was a wee girl, I totally can relate to this. But I do think the whole ‘making a band’ thing is more interesting than the romance itself, and boy the songs are soooo much fun. I’m an 80s kid so I grew up with all these songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah the music was a ton of fun. Its just my experiences with trying to get a band together are only ever for us, for the sake of the art, not to impress someone. But I get it, and they are only teenagers so there is that as well. Perhaps I was too harsh but apart from the music I couldn’t find much to like. I’m in the minority though, that seems certain!

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      • Ahah well of course ideally you do things for the sake of art. But these are kids, y’know, I mean I did silly stuff as a kid so I could totally relate! I think the kids are talented musicians and the songs are incredible!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I didn’t take into account that they were just kids. Though IMO there are a ton of people who create things purely to sell, and I think these people out-weigh the people doing it for the hell of it. Or maybe the creative people stick to their guns so all the dollar dollar stuff ended up reaching more people.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The best movie about starting a band in my opinion is The Commitments. I do want to see it, but the trailers did little to impress me. Forming a band to make a girl fall in love with you is an ok plot device. But yeah, it should delve into some of the darker relms of being in one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the characters were all bland, and nothing interesting really happened, when in reality there are almost always disputes, or at least heated discussions regarding creative direction for a band. I don’t like the idea of being in a band to be cool or to impress a girl either, I guess I take my music much more seriously. The music was great though, so there is that.

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  7. I liked this a lot more than you did. I thought the behaviour was pretty much typical teen stuff… and I know so many guys who got into bands because of girls. Lol!

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  8. I hear ya loud and clear man, but I gotta say I had a great time with this movie and wasn’t all that bothered by the initial plot setup. It had such an honest layer of sweetness and joy to it that instantly drew me in. The songs are great, that is one thing we can both agree on. But apart from that I really agree with Tom’s take that Carney’s films are about how music bring people together and this film was about that too.
    But altogether I absolutely loved the heartwarming and joyful quality of this film.

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    • Oh totally, its my own experience with playing in bands that ruined this for me. I imagine if I were to re-watch I’d really like it, as it has great music. I thought the characters were really thin though, except for Cosmo’s brother. Yeah I really should watch it again, cos its pop music, and they are kids.

      Plus I play in a metal band and just hate the idea of lying about being in a band to seem cool. The movie doesn’t preach that or anything but it is there, and it irks me. Being in a band isn’t ‘cool’, its about the interaction between members. I guess that was the sorta film I was hoping for. But again, they were kids. I might revisit this later in the year

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      • Haha well, in that case, your reservations are completely legit. But someone who isn’t in a band, I guess I could see the lighter and more kid-friendly side of it which was about starting a bad to impress a girl and found it kinda joyful

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      • Yeah, I obviously missed that part a lot. I’d probably like it more now if I watched it again, cos the music was good, but…. the characters weren’t. I don’t remember any of them except the brother of the main singer. That’s just me though

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      • I guess I see your point about the characters.They worked but there wasn’t anything profound or memorable about them. Except for Jack Reynor who played the older brother. He was very memorable.

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  9. I have to say, I agree with you 100%. I was also looking forward to this movie and was greatly disappointed. The music was okay, but the characters were mostly poorly written – except for the brother that was, as you said, the best and most memorable one (he was also the only one I could identify with at least a bit). It would be a much better movie with him in the main role 🙂

    Like

    • Yep, totally agree. The brother was the only one with substance, the rest were characters I can’t remember at all a week or so later, not even the leads

      Like

  10. Hey Jordan, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Sing Street. What’s a review without our own point of view right? 🙂 I agree how the band members, the band dynamic and music making process wasn’t the focus. I kind of wanted to get to know those characters more. And I didn’t completely buy into the love story. But my take on this movie is how those before us can pave the way forward for us or can influence us for the better. Like how each of those songs took inspiration from a classic and how the older brother helped him. I can totally get your points about why it didn’t work for you though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey exactly mate, that’s why I don’t really read proper critics much, cos its so neutral and subsequently a bit sterile. The reviews in Sight and Sound are a good example of that.

      Yeah I wanted to get to know the characters more too, its a pity they were so shallow. The older brother was the only one I remember from it, he was actually three-dimensional. I didn’t buy into the love story either, probably because like I said, I don’t like this idea of forming a band to be ‘cool’. I know they are teenagers but still, the notion itself gives me the shits. And the two weren’t convincing either, not much chemistry happening

      Your point of view on this is very interesting. I will probably re-watch this at some point, as after all its about music and music is my obsession, and I’m sure your unique perspective will be with me as I do it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I enjoy reading reviews that have a strong or unique point of view and explain why they feel that way. 🙂 If you do a rewatch, somethings to look out for is how his and the band members appearance change depending on which musical act they are drawing inspiration from at the time, also how the older brother influences him. I also think that scene where they are lost in a storm but find their way by following the path of the bigger boat is pretty symbolic.

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      • Thanks mate, really appreciate the kind words! I’ll keep all that in mind if I do decide to watch it again, which I probably will cos its about music

        Like

  11. Your review paradoxically makes me interested in seeing it. You’re spoken too well of the good bits 🙂 Nice to also hear about your passion for music.

    Like

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