Cappuccino drinkers tend to be are creative and sociable; positive optimistics. These traits are exuded by Conor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), the lead-singer and instigator for the teenage ‘futurist’ band Sing Street, hailing from the distinguished south inner city secondary school: Synge Street.
Set in mid-eighties Dublin, when the country itself was in the grip of mass unemployment and everything that goes with it (history repeating itself, anyone), John Carney’s movie introduces us to how Conor’s family are forced to cut their cloth accordingly and his private schooling is seen as an economic bridge too far. And so Conor, is sent to Synge Street, C.B.S. (Christian Brothers School), where he will learn to ‘act manly’.
The movie follows his adolescent journey from inspiration, creativity and motivation whilst dealing with intimidation and violence from the school-yard bully ‘Barry’, the strict adherence to the school dress-code, the break-up of his parent’s marriage and his first-love (Raphina, Lucy Boynton). (Conor, certainly didn’t lack for material upon which he could ply his trade).
The movie is a nostalgic joy from start to finish. Being a Synge Street past pupil himself, this blogger found the emotion from the movie enhanced immensely. The school premises had not changed (except for a lick of paint) since his entrance during the late eighties. The trees adorning the street outside the school, the grey uniform with blue and white pin-stripes, the (thank god!) lack of political correctness, the chaos of the ‘canteen’ when milling around at lunchtime amongst the Wham bars, Stingers and Hot Soup were the order of break, the boisterousness in the classroom. The school hall hadn’t changed either, except during the exam scene, it certainly looked less daunting on the movie reel. By the time this blogger arrived in the school, the smoking rooms were gone. The dress-codes, the strictness from teachers both Brothers and lay and the ‘bullies’ certainly hadn’t. Synge Street itself was a microcosm of society, some ‘poshies’, some lunatics – an educational melting pot, simmering gently, where you learned ‘survival skills’ as well as receiving an excellent education.
Sing Street will resonate with ‘creative cappuccinos’. To start a band (or to embark on any creative journey, for that matter), is a risk. ‘The risk of being ridiculed’. It’s the process of starting something, the process of action. The process of convincing others, the process of listening to advise, the process of forging ahead, making your own path. It’s the influencing of others, building the motivation of others – ‘building a team where ‘everyone has each-other’s backs’. It’s the dissemination and expression of one’s art – be what may. It’s the overcoming of ‘barriers to progression’ and the aforementioned ridiculing. The underlying message from the movie, in addition to the fun, the cuteness, the nostalgia and THE SOUNDTRACK! is powerful.
Against the back drop of how dreams are crushed by impending austerity (his dad, Aiden Gillen), an unloving marriage (his Mam, Maria Doyle Kennedy) and substance abuse (his brother, Jack Reynor), Conor (and his band of rebels) rise above all obstacles to have their night being centre stage. Creative cappuccino drinkers will understand and embrace the over-riding message: follow your dreams, remain on course and ‘go for it’! Conor Lawlor remained true to his creativity. He followed his dream, his heart. He remained steadfast and undaunted. He lived.