Sing Street – Finally in Russia

REVIEW/NATION
by Albina Akhatova
04.04.2021
The text is written in partnership with Cinetexts.
Russian version is available here.
Five years after the world and Russian Irish Week premieres in 2016, Sing Street coming-of-age musical drama was released at the Russian box office. Musician and the film's director John Carney has shot seven movies, but only three have reached worldwide success. All of them are about music: Once (2007), Begin Again (2013) and Sing Street (2016). Considering the topics of music, creativity and career from an adult point of view, Carney turned to the children's perception. In fact, Sing Street can be called the backstory of the main character of Once, who goes through the group standing and leaving for London after the first unsuccessful attempt in his youth.

The theme of music in Irish cinema is no less significant than the music itself for this country, which has given the world many big names – U2, The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, My Bloody Valentine, Enya, Sinead O'Connor. The characters of Irish musical films, including John Carney's, create and break up bands (The Commitments, 1991), attempt to live like a more successful friend Bono from U2 (Killing Bono, 2010), find new meaning and inspiration for life and creativity through music (Once).

The famous slogan of Sing Street is "Boy meets girl. Girl unimpressed. The boy starts a band". It is written, according to the logline rule, contains the synopsis of the film in 100 characters and 25 words and reveals the plot without unnecessary details. The scene takes place before the era of Human Traffic (1999), Trainspotting (1995) and Dublin Oldschool (2018): crazy comedies about entertaining the youth, raves and drugs. Irelandis in crisis and lacks money in the 80s: the parents transfer Conor, the main character of Sing Street, to a cheap school, plan to divorce and sell their house. But the 80s are also the heyday of new wave and post-punk, the revival of rock-and-roll, the appearance of Duran Duran, David Bowie, Depeche Mode and Joy Division on the music scene.
At the new school, Conor meets Rafina and instantly likes her. On the pretext that he is looking for a girl for a video, he spontaneously starts a music band Conor recruits the red-haired producer Darren, who is actually a manager and a cameraman, the orchestra-man Eamon and the "only black in Dublin" Ngig. Later, two friends, Harry and Larry, join the guys. The newly formed band thinks about the name.
Without much thought, Eamon suggests "Sing Street", using pun: their school is located on Synge Street, and they will sing. However, the characters use not so much wordplay as a psychological defence of annulment. When Conor's older brother Brendan talks about the musical style and video clips of the bands of the '80s, he asks: "What kind of tyranny can resist this?". The Synge Street school is a conservative place of prohibition, strictness and obeying, while the new musical group is a rebellious response to this lack of freedom and conformity. A place of torment and suffering turns into a symbol of freedom, conquered by music. The boys do the same with one of the antagonists, a bully from a junkie's family: instead of an open conflict, they make him their road manager.

The success seems very easy to them: the team gathers quickly and everyone can play musical instruments. They even have a multi-instrumentalist Eamon, who devalues the skills of the others.Conor's true motivation to start a band does not let him take the boys seriously. The director does not show where the turning point in Conor's worldview occurs when he realizes that he started Sing Street not to impress a girl, but to express himself. But this muddled storyline illustrates one of the important issues of the film.
Sing Street brings up several topics at once: creativity, purpose, love, inner freedom - and mixes them with the unstoppable force of youthful maximalism. The latter teenage boys find out from a girl and an adult man. Rafina says: "Never do anything by halves", and Brendan says: "Act manly", talking about the courage to engage in creativity. Art asks for revelation. Revelation requires fortitude and strength of mind.
Brendan is the character who feels the most broken, so he motivates Conor to start and develop a musical career most of all. Finally, it's him who helps Conor and Rafina to go to London. He talks off his and Conor's sister because she "gave up on her dreams" and chose to become an architect rather than an artist. Brendan himself wanted to study in Germany, but eventually dropped out of college. Now he smokes weed every day. The generational trauma he experiences becomes a catalyst and a springboard for Conor, as does the immense love and faith Brendan has for his younger brother.
A sensitive issue runs through as a sub-theme to the story of the Irish, who are looking for a better life outside of their homeland. The economic recovery in Ireland would begin only after the events of the film, in the 1990s. Before that, the green island was deprived of opportunities for growth and development. The stuffiness and narrow-mindedness of Dublin are expressed not only in conservative traditions. John Carney makes fun of the provincial Irish slumber, not so much of the adult generation as of the teenagers in the American-Irish prom scene. This sarcasm perfectly illustrates the meme "expectation vs reality", emphasizing that to grow, develop and achieve a goal, a man needs to get out of his comfort zone. Then maybe something will work out.

Against this background, an inarticulate antagonist, the villainous catholic priest and headmaster Baxter is not as expressive and invincible as he could be. Boys confront themselves when they don't understand their motivation or are afraid to move on or abide by rules. Although the devil is not as black as he is painted. Even the unapproachable Rafina is not as complex and mysterious as she seems to Conor. She does not have model contracts, she lives in a dormitory and is bound by abusive relationships. However, the waters of the Irish Sea, which Conor and Rafina sail to Britain, wash away past doubts and fears, inviting them to a new life and responding positively to their risk.

Music, which makes up the meaning and main activity of the characters, is constantly close to them, migrating from diegetic to off-screen. Besides, Carney's directorial style is distinguished by documentary features. In addition to the fleeting feeling that one witnesses the creation of a great musical band, this method creates a picture of the boys' in their everyday life. It is enhanced when Conor and Eamon are in the frame together, accidentally or deliberately chosen similar to the McCartney-Lennon tandem. In this context, the character of Rafina looks significant, referring to Yoko Ono, but if this one destroyed The Beatles, then the first inspired Sing Street.
A dozen songs performed by Sing Street and the film speak equally of the confidence, determination and audacity needed to achieve the goal. Sing Street is a daring and inspiring picture about courage, music and love. The main goal of the movie is to show that nothing is frightening and impossible if a person understands and knows why he or she wants to do what he or she likes.
 
Sing Street – Finally in Russia
REVIEW/NATION
by Albina Akhatova
04.04.2021
The text is written in partnership with Cinetexts.
Russian version is available here.
Five years after the world and Russian Irish Week premieres in 2016, Sing Street coming-of-age musical drama was released at the Russian box office. Musician and the film's director John Carney has shot seven movies, but only three have reached worldwide success. All of them are about music: Once (2007), Begin Again (2013) and Sing Street (2016). Considering the topics of music, creativity and career from an adult point of view, Carney turned to the children's perception. In fact, Sing Street can be called the backstory of the main character of Once, who goes through the group standing and leaving for London after the first unsuccessful attempt in his youth.

The theme of music in Irish cinema is no less significant than the music itself for this country, which has given the world many big names – U2, The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, My Bloody Valentine, Enya, Sinead O'Connor. The characters of Irish musical films, including John Carney's, create and break up bands (The Commitments, 1991), attempt to live like a more successful friend Bono from U2 (Killing Bono, 2010), find new meaning and inspiration for life and creativity through music (Once).

The famous slogan of Sing Street is "Boy meets girl. Girl unimpressed. The boy starts a band". It is written, according to the logline rule, contains the synopsis of the film in 100 characters and 25 words and reveals the plot without unnecessary details. The scene takes place before the era of Human Traffic (1999), Trainspotting (1995) and Dublin Oldschool (2018): crazy comedies about entertaining the youth, raves and drugs. Irelandis in crisis and lacks money in the 80s: the parents transfer Conor, the main character of Sing Street, to a cheap school, plan to divorce and sell their house. But the 80s are also the heyday of new wave and post-punk, the revival of rock-and-roll, the appearance of Duran Duran, David Bowie, Depeche Mode and Joy Division on the music scene.
At the new school, Conor meets Rafina and instantly likes her. On the pretext that he is looking for a girl for a video, he spontaneously starts a music band Conor recruits the red-haired producer Darren, who is actually a manager and a cameraman, the orchestra-man Eamon and the "only black in Dublin" Ngig. Later, two friends, Harry and Larry, join the guys. The newly formed band thinks about the name.

Without much thought, Eamon suggests "Sing Street", using pun: their school is located on Synge Street, and they will sing. However, the characters use not so much wordplay as a psychological defence of annulment. When Conor's older brother Brendan talks about the musical style and video clips of the bands of the '80s, he asks: "What kind of tyranny can resist this?". The Synge Street school is a conservative place of prohibition, strictness and obeying, while the new musical group is a rebellious response to this lack of freedom and conformity. A place of torment and suffering turns into a symbol of freedom, conquered by music. The boys do the same with one of the antagonists, a bully from a junkie's family: instead of an open conflict, they make him their road manager.

The success seems very easy to them: the team gathers quickly and everyone can play musical instruments. They even have a multi-instrumentalist Eamon, who devalues the skills of the others.Conor's true motivation to start a band does not let him take the boys seriously. The director does not show where the turning point in Conor's worldview occurs when he realizes that he started Sing Street not to impress a girl, but to express himself. But this muddled storyline illustrates one of the important issues of the film.
Sing Street brings up several topics at once: creativity, purpose, love, inner freedom - and mixes them with the unstoppable force of youthful maximalism. The latter teenage boys find out from a girl and an adult man. Rafina says: "Never do anything by halves", and Brendan says: "Act manly", talking about the courage to engage in creativity. Art asks for revelation. Revelation requires fortitude and strength of mind.
Brendan is the character who feels the most broken, so he motivates Conor to start and develop a musical career most of all. Finally, it's him who helps Conor and Rafina to go to London. He talks off his and Conor's sister because she "gave up on her dreams" and chose to become an architect rather than an artist. Brendan himself wanted to study in Germany, but eventually dropped out of college. Now he smokes weed every day. The generational trauma he experiences becomes a catalyst and a springboard for Conor, as does the immense love and faith Brendan has for his younger brother.
A sensitive issue runs through as a sub-theme to the story of the Irish, who are looking for a better life outside of their homeland. The economic recovery in Ireland would begin only after the events of the film, in the 1990s. Before that, the green island was deprived of opportunities for growth and development. The stuffiness and narrow-mindedness of Dublin are expressed not only in conservative traditions. John Carney makes fun of the provincial Irish slumber, not so much of the adult generation as of the teenagers in the American-Irish prom scene. This sarcasm perfectly illustrates the meme "expectation vs reality", emphasizing that to grow, develop and achieve a goal, a man needs to get out of his comfort zone. Then maybe something will work out.

Against this background, an inarticulate antagonist, the villainous catholic priest and headmaster Baxter is not as expressive and invincible as he could be. Boys confront themselves when they don't understand their motivation or are afraid to move on or abide by rules. Although the devil is not as black as he is painted. Even the unapproachable Rafina is not as complex and mysterious as she seems to Conor. She does not have model contracts, she lives in a dormitory and is bound by abusive relationships. However, the waters of the Irish Sea, which Conor and Rafina sail to Britain, wash away past doubts and fears, inviting them to a new life and responding positively to their risk.

Music, which makes up the meaning and main activity of the characters, is constantly close to them, migrating from diegetic to off-screen. Besides, Carney's directorial style is distinguished by documentary features. In addition to the fleeting feeling that one witnesses the creation of a great musical band, this method creates a picture of the boys' in their everyday life. It is enhanced when Conor and Eamon are in the frame together, accidentally or deliberately chosen similar to the McCartney-Lennon tandem. In this context, the character of Rafina looks significant, referring to Yoko Ono, but if this one destroyed The Beatles, then the first inspired Sing Street.
A dozen songs performed by Sing Street and the film speak equally of the confidence, determination and audacity needed to achieve the goal. Sing Street is a daring and inspiring picture about courage, music and love. The main goal of the movie is to show that nothing is frightening and impossible if a person understands and knows why he or she wants to do what he or she likes.
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