This is the first film to release this year that i have wanted to re-watch immediately after seeing it, just unbelievably phenomenal. This is a film that has been highly praised by everyone who i have heard talk about it, but i still went into it with fairly average expectations. And as a result, this movie blew me away!….. It surprised me on so many levels, from the story, to the performances, to the music, to the emotion, to the heart, this film is a complete package that accomplishes everything to perfection. Set in 1980’s Dublin, the film follows a 15 year old boy named Conor who after going through a troubling time in his life comes across a mysterious and beautiful girl named Raphina, and he tries to win her heart by inviting her to star in his band’s music videos. That is the core plot of this film but it is so much greater than just that. It’s a coming-of-age story with a lot of heart, humour, is a story about youth, love, the power of music, and the strong important bond between brothers that connects to so many people all over the world. With amazing directing and phenomenal performances this homage to 80’s music is an incredible piece of cinema that everyone should check out.
There is so much here to praise that i cannot even think of where to start. One element that gives this movie so much emotion, drama, charisma, comedy, heart, and character are the performances as they are flawless. The film does star some big name actors such as Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Jack Reynor, who are phenomenal in their roles but it is the younger cast of students who add so much to this film, without them it would be nothing. Every single one of them nail their characters so well that you buy the fact that these students would really act like this and you are endlessly entertained by their interactions. The chemistry between the members of this band is so lively and fun and you are watching this group of friends making music and you can’t help but think you are watching a biopic about real people, that is how authentic this trip to the 80’s felt. And the most impressive part is that for all of these kids, this is their first or second credited acting role they have which only makes me even more impressed at how talented they are in these roles. Jack Reynor cops a lot of slack for his role in Transformers, but the guy has proven time and time again in ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Sing Street’ that he has immense acting talent and he brings so much to the brotherly bond aspect of this film that he is one of the most important characters here with somewhat limited screen time.
Next up i need to talk about this character who really defined the tone of every sequence, defined the mood of every scene, did an immense amount of storytelling, and was the most important piece of this fantastic puzzle….. The Music. Music plays a massive role in this film that extends beyond being awkwardly placed in the background, or contributing to random dance numbers. As i said, it really is a character and storyteller as so much amazing content is delivered through the great use of new and original 80’s music. Every scene no matter how fun and positive it is or how emotional and somber is accompanied by some killer music that puts finishing touches on every scene. This soundtrack is one that is so damn great that i can actually see myself checking it out, it has a mixture of amazing classic 80’s songs by ‘A-Ha’ and ‘Duran Duran’, and a lot of new 80’s style music that is so good and accurate to the setting that unless you were told otherwise you would think these were real 80’s songs. And they do this really cool thing where there are some brief pieces of music from future songs weaved into the new ’80’s’ songs…. a small detail but something awesome you will pick up.
I can ramble on about this film and how enjoyable it is for a really long time but i will keep it fairly concise for this review. If you love 80’s Drama/Comedy/Musical films with a tonne of heart, fun, comedy, and emotion then you cannot pass up any opportunity to watch this film. Now for the score… When i start my reviews i never know the score i am going to give it, i have a general range in mind but as i reflect on what i have seen it changes and fluctuates throughout. And after much thought, there is only one way this is going to go, for the 2nd time this year, here it is….