By Benjamin Cassidy
Knowing no more about the plot, other than its basis is ‘Boy meets girl, boy tells girl he’s in a band, boy isn’t in band, boy forms band to woo girl’, I had a good feeling about this film. Perhaps it is in the simplicity of the concept that my instinct saw good things. I’ve always been a great believer in simple things done well than anything that is too convoluted to ever exist. People know what they like, even if those things are re-hashed from other things. Oscar Wilde once said, “Fools borrow – geniuses steal”. Indeed, it is thought that even Shakespeare didn’t entirely dream up Romeo and Juliet. Most people want to be entertained by and indulged in whatever the film promises.
Sing Street does what all great films involving character-driven plots do. It tells their stories and gets audiences to buy into what they are all about – both story and character. That isn’t hard with the rag-tag bunch of angsty school kids who star, the only one not at school being Raphina, played wonderfully and delicately by Lucy Boynton. Raphina is an orphan who has dreams of one day being a model, and is approached by Cosmo, who has just joined the local comprehensive, run by Christian Brothers. Cosmo was previously in a private school but his warring parents are making cut backs as his father is self-employed and has no work coming in, and his mother has had her hours cut. Needless to say, things are very different than in his previous school, and he has to learn to adapt to fit in.
The backdrop of the film is not dissimilar from many a future rock-star’s upbringing. Trouble at home, misunderstood by teachers and bullied by fellow pupils. All this while trying to somehow find an identity in the world. The reality of it all begins to surface in Cosmo’s music. But of course, to form a band, you need other members. This is when the film really gets going.
After being introduced by the resident ‘little ginger kid’, Darren, Cosmo soon discovers that Eamon can play virtually any instrument on the planet – his Dad is in a local covers band, but is currently away in rehab. So the two sensitive, poet types form a bond and start to write songs together (Lennon and Mcartney, anyone?), after Eamon’s mother agrees that they can use the living room for practice as long as it doesn’t start to interfere with studies.
Raphina agrees to be in the band’s first video after Cosmo is economical with the truth, claiming he has an entire production team, when in reality he only has the ginger kid with a video camera that he doesn’t know how to use properly. Fortunately, she likes the band and the music. The film is as much a story of Raphina’s rites of passage as Cosmo’s; she cuts a lonely figure who acts much older than she is, and is probably grateful to have friends her own age that she can identify with, and most importantly, dare to dream with that she can become somebody and something more than her mother, who is semi-institutionalised.
The combination of great story-telling through lovable characters and the perfect mixture of fun and drama ensures that this music-based, coming-of-age, feel-good film hits all the right notes, in such a way that it will leave you singing inside.