Saturday, 26 March 2016

REVIEW - SING STREET (JOHN CARNEY)


The inevitable return to his more modest roots yields the inevitable upturn in quality for John Carney, as this charming indie comedy-drama proves. Now, charming indie comedy-dramas are a dime a dozen, and, for all its spirit, Sing Street never truly tries to transcend its innate limitations, but these modest roots provide modest success. Principal to that success is the manner by which it is achieved - the warm, wry Irish wit and a terrific soundtrack are bottomless sources of the stuff, elevating the banal plot and even managing to inform its own success, serving as more creative expressions of its tropes and cliches than the dialogue-driven dramatic scenes do. And even then, Carney's adroit understanding of his setting engenders a more profound impact than those narrative cliches would otherwise - Sing Street is not just the Irish spirit, but an insight into Irish identity. And yet, these are all gains made on questionable ground, given the film's deficiencies. It's not just another charming indie comedy-drama by accident, but by design, and indeed by necessity, as transpires upon even the most casual analysis of its style and structure. There's thus a lack of ambition to Sing Street, one that makes its blinkered idealism seem rather quaint, though Carney alludes to an awareness in this regard, in a number of scenes whose ambiguous tone mitigates their supposedly celebratory content. And while the film may lack originality, it makes up for that in sheer skill - stylistically and musically both, Sing Street riffs on the good and the great. In the former, it's good enough. In the latter, it might even be great.