SHELF LIFE: John Carney outdoes his own previous best with ‘Sing Street’

08.18.16 4 months ago

What is Shelf Life? I recently moved into a new apartment, which means I had to box my entire movie collection. Now I”m trying to figure out how much of my physical media actually fits here.

Each and every title is now up for grabs, new or old, and it”s time to decide what goes on the shelf and what just plain goes.

TITLE: Sing Street
YEAR: 2016
DIRECTOR: John Carney
SCREENWRITER: John Carney
FORMAT: Blu-ray
PURCHASED OR SENT: Sent

WHAT IS IT? Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is a young man in Dublin in the 1980s, and when he meets a girl worth impressing, the soon-to-be-a-model Raphina (Lucy Boynton), he starts a band with the express purpose of getting her to star in the music video.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Holy cow, I missed this one. While it had a brief theatrical run, I consider it a major mistake to have missed the press screening. I should have reviewed it. I should have supported it. I should have shouted from the rooftops about it, because Sing Street is a beautiful, big-hearted slice of magic, and considering how much I adore Once, it”s high praise when I say this is the best film John Carney has made so far.

Clearly, John Carney believes in the power of music to change lives and to define them. His films deal with characters who write and perform because it is who they are, not to get something from it, which is what makes the set-up for Sing Street so clever. Conor really believes that all he”s doing is trying to impress Raphina, who shows up looking like frozen-in-amber Ione Skye circa 1987, taking her fashion cues from Sheena Easton and Duran Duran. But as Conor works with Eamon (Mark McKenna), he discovers a genuine love of songwriting, and watching how Conor and the band transform themselves depending on each new influence is one of this year”s most profound delights.

What makes this one stick for me is the relationship that Conor has with his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) as their family crumbles around them. It”s hard for me to not see some echo of the last few years of my personal life, and I hope my sons are able to help each other through these times with the generosity and the understanding that these brothers display. It”s beautiful stuff. There are at least six great scenes in the film, including a tremendous moment where Conor imagines the perfect version of a music video he”s about to shoot, bringing the entire film together in absurdly sincere ’80s kitsch. I love this film, and I anticipate it”s going to be one I return to often in the future.

DOES IT DESERVE A PLACE ON THE SHELF? Hell, I might build it a shelf of its own.

Sing Street is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats now.

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