Sundance 2016 Review: “Sing Street” Completes John Carney’s Musical Trifecta

Sing Street Review: Sing Street Completes John Carney’s Musical Trifecta

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A story of love and music that only John Carney can tell.

Sing Street is the latest film from writer/director John Carney. The story takes place in Dublin during 1985 and focuses on a teenager named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Conor is high school freshman struggling to fit in at school and his home life isn’t much better. One day, Conor decides to take a risk and ask Raphina (Lucy Boynton) to be part of his music video which to his surprise she agrees to star in. Now, Conor and his outcast friends must form a band to prove to Raphina that they have what it takes to become huge rock stars.

Those who have seen John Carney’s Once and Begin Again probably know that the man has a real knack for telling stories centered around music and Sing Street is no different. I was lucky enough to see Sing Street at its World Premiere at Sundance and was so lucky that I did. Seeing this film at Sundance was one of those rare reminders of why I love movies as much as I do.

Sing Street tells a real story about real teenagers with real problems. When watching this film, you would never know that Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is a newcomer but he is. Walsh-Peelo owns the film as Conor and is the underdog that the audience connects to and immediately roots for. Conor is a well rounded character thanks to Carney’s script. I love that the character is more than this outcast teenager but rather someone with other things going on in his life that inspire him to go on this musical journey with his friends.


Just like Carney’s Once, Sing Street feels personal which I believe is what makes the story work so well. Its very rare nowadays to watch a film and feel the passion from the writer transcend to the audience. It happens here which makes watching this film a real treat. Carney’s story has a lot of humor as well as a lot of heart and all of it flows together flawlessly.

It is perfectly clearly while watching Sing Street that Carney knows the material. He handles the 80s with humor, dedication, and love. Films like Back to the Future and bands like Duran Duran and The Cure are part of the magic. Carney showcases his love for the 80s by playing homage to the generation but also poking fun at it. The scene where Conor and his friends are shooting their first video is simply brilliant. It is such a throwback to the cheesiness of music videos from the 80s but handled with such love and care.

If you are a fan of the 80s music or just love music, you will absolutely adore the music in this film. Sing Street features several original songs and everyone of them is great. They range from slower ballads to songs that feel inspired by several of the great 80s bands that have defined that era. I loved the song “Drive It Like You Stole It” and had the song stuck in my head for days after seeing the film. With how catchy the music numbers are, I would be surprised if you didn’t have at least one of the songs stuck in your head when leaving the theater. It’s a definitely one of those rare occasions where you are going to almost immediately want to run out and get the soundtrack. The music in Sing Street is definitely on par with the music from Once.


Overall, I have nothing negative at all to say about Sing Street. Carney proves that you can take cliched and overdone material and still make it great and give it a fresh twist, Everything about this film from the direction to the musical numbers are top notch. This is a real crowd pleaser and a film that one will want to watch again and again. John Carney has created the movie musical trifecta with Once, Begin Again, and now Sing Street. Bravo John Carney, Bravo.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Sing Street is a 9 out of 10.

Please feel free to check out the videos below which I recorded when I attended the World Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

World Premiere Q&A:

Live Acoustic Performance of Brown Shoes & Beautiful Sea at Sundance 2016:

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