Filmmaker John Carney writes and directs another ode to music for the silver screen in his latest project Sing Street. A believer that music has the power to breath life into a dying soul, Carney shines a light on the musicians as well as the music. It's those who make the music that help to take the soul to a place where it needs refreshing. To dream a little.
Carney says, "I wanted to do something that was personal. I didn't want to just be doing a musical story for the sake of it." He adds, "I am inspired to show a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life." He continues, "And, transforms us into something greater." The film is based heavily on Carney's own high-school experiences. The only difference was that his family was not in a state of shambles like his film characters.
His love for music and the nostalgia puts Carney's Sing Street in the middle of Ireland's music scene in the 1980s. Along with its social and fashion mores that dictated Dublin's culture. Producer Anthony Bregman parallels Carney's growing up years when he himself formed a school band. Carney's journey during his teenage years parallels his main character Conor (Ferdia Wlash-Peelo): fighting off being bullied by students and headmasters, reasons for forming a school band, along with winning-over the cool girl.
Bregman says, "A rite of passage story with strong romantic elements and a film built on the musical foundations of 1980s British bands, Sing Street delivers an honest and moving perspective on the perils and wonders of teenage life." He adds, "The idea of a fresh and yet innocent romance blossoming between the two lead characters, was a dynamic I had not seen in filmmaking for a long time."
The talk of U2 helping Carney with this film is true. Carney asked for their help because he wanted to know what it was like from their experience how a good youth band begins and succeeds to great heights. Carney shares, "Bono and Edge were really helpful early on, in the development stage." Their help came in the form of pitching story ideas, talking about bands in the '80s, and talking about youth. They'd say, "If this kid's band is going to succeed, here's what it's like." U2 was and is successful, so they would know best. Carney sincerely gleaned from their assistance.
In contrast to Carney's development of a teenage crush, he adds the profound impact on children when marriages began to fall apart during this era in Ireland's history. Divorce was not allowed in Ireland at the time.
Carney recalls, "It's [Sing Street] really, a 'before and after' story, which is set in 80s Dublin. It was a time of recession and immigration. A time when even the very rich or those who should have had money didn't have cash." Adding, "People were forced to think a little bit differently in terms of what clothes they wore and how they expressed themselves through how they looked."
The life of 14-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has been turned upside down when his dad, Robert (Aidan Gillen), looses his job. This hardship puts a strain on the finances and the family relationships. The undue stress forces uncomfortable choices and consequences.
Raised in Dublin's posh private education system Conor is forced to enroll in an inner-city public school known as Synge Street School. The school his dad, attended years earlier. Nothing like the reputation his dad recalls because from day one, Conor encounters the inexcusable hardships of being the new kid, from the posh private school.
No matter how compliant, kind and honest Conor tries to be in his new environment he is forever at odds with someone from his new school. Under the guidance from his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), Conor is advised to start a band to avoid the daily drama and mistreatment. Knowing nothing about the music world, he takes on the challenge after he meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton), asks her to be in his music video that's filming in four days. Conor changes his name to Cosmo and the adventure of his life begins.