Sydney Film Festival Review: Sing Street

Tease your hair, bust out the electric blue eyeshadow and put on your best 80s attire for this throwback.

Directed and written by John Carney, Sing Street has everything you’d expect from a classic coming of age comedy. There's the awkward teenage romance, the misfit friends and, of course, the underdog protagonist. While it sticks closely to this formula, the film is anything but dull.

It's set in 1985 in Dublin, where 15-year-old rockstar wannabe Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is forced to move to a new school run by tyrannical teachers and plagued by brutish bullies. Meanwhile, his home life is also under threat as his parents’ marriage hits the rock. His only solace is his records and the wisdom of his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), who tells him “Rock is a risk. You risk being ridiculed”.

But things start looking up when he meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton), the enigmatic muse of the story. Upon hearing that she is a model, Conor invites her to star in his next music video. Now, all he needs is a band. Gathering a mixed bag of loveable local dorks and music geeks, the results are a mix of cringe-worthy costumes, sappy song-writing sessions and amateur music videos caught on a shaky hand-held camera. Practice makes perfect though and soon Conor and his band of misfits are churning out catchy tunes in the style of their self-proclaimed futurist genre.


Filled with impeccably timed and side-splitting dry humour, you might want to save this film for private viewing if you have a particularly obnoxious laugh. Close second to the one liners is the film’s stellar soundtrack, with the likes of Duran Duran, The Cure, Spandau Ballet and, of course, the pop rock gems by the "Sing Street" band that act as a constant driver in the film.

While the film touches on heavier themes such as sexual abuse, mental illness, drug abuse and infidelity, it only scrapes the surface. This might be an attempt to protect the feel-good nature of the plot but it also limits how much we can connect with some of the film’s more complex characters.

Sprinkled with just the right amount of cheese, Sing Street is an undeniable dose of nostalgia and laughs that’ll have you hitting repeat on that throwback 80s playlist long after the roll of the credits.

A post-Sydney Film Festival screening of Sing Street is on 21 June 2016 @ 8:30pm at Palace Norton Street.

Sing Street hits cinemas nationally 14 July 2016.

Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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