Blu-ray Review: Sing Street

By , Contributor
Writer-director John Carney's Sing Street is a love letter to mid-'80s styles, music, and sensibilities. A superficial way of describing it might be "The Commitments meets School of Rock," but that would be selling Carney (who also directed the acclaimed Once and Begin Again) short. It's 1985 and 15-year-old Cosmo Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is struggling with his dysfunctional family. After being transferred from a private school to a rough-and-tumble public one, Cosmo is soon smitten by Raphina (Lucy Boynton). He awkwardly attempts to woo the slightly-older teen by promising her a role in his band's next music video. Bold move, now he just needs to put together a band despite his total lack of musical qualifications.
day_25_web_11_lg (380x322).jpg Sing Street is a deceptively lightweight look at puppy love, bullying, and relatively mild rebellion. As Cosmo assembles his band (the name Sing Street is chosen as a play on his new school's name, Synge Street CBS), some characters are left underdeveloped. Resolutions with schoolyard bullies and an overbearing headmaster, Br. Baxter (Don Wycherley), are too pat. But there's real exuberance and a comforting sense of innocence (1985 has never felt so long ago) that makes Sing Street an endearing, charming piece of work.

Cosmo finds the perfect songwriting partner in Eamon (Mark McKenna), a tremendously talented musician who can play just about any instrument. He also has an love for rabbits and cares for several at his home. The partnership between Cosmo and Eamon blossoms just a little too quickly, truth be told (Gary Clark's original tunes, composed specifically for the film, provide the fictitious Sing Street with spot-on '80s-styled material). For a kid with no demonstrated musical skill, Cosmo is a bit too fast a learner as he develops his lyric-writing, vocals, and stage presence in lightning-fast time. Honestly, that doesn't hinder Sing Street too much. The feeling is so real throughout and the acting (the cast is will be mostly unfamiliar to U.S. viewers) so unforced, it's near impossible not to be won over.

Special mention must be made of the award-worthy turn by Jack Reynor as Cosmo's older brother Brendan. Sing Street is really as much about Brendan as it is Cosmo. In fact, the senior child of the soon-to-be-separated Lalor parents is probably the most interesting character here. As Brendan provides forceful advice for his brother, bitterness and resentment over his own sacrificed dreams come to the fore. Reynor (who has already amassed a considerable resume, including Transformers: Age of Extinction and the little-seen but well-received 2015 Macbeth) makes Brendan's emotional pain (and love for his brother) absolutely palpable.

Anchor Bay's Blu-ray offers a decent transfer and a robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that keeps the focus appropriately on the music. Special features include: "Making Sing Street" featurette (five minutes), "Writer/Director John Carney & Adam Levine Talk Sing Street" (three minutes; Levine co-wrote and sings one of the soundtrack's tunes), "Cast Auditions" (including "John Carney on Casting").
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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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