Why Sing Street Is A Great Dublin Movie.

Every great city has its great filmmakers, and Dublin is no exception.

A great Dublin movie doesn’t merely show off the landmarks, however, or sample the legendary wit – although it never hurts to do a little bit of both. It gets under the skin of the city, and captures its pulse, via that elusive quality some like to call movie magic.

There are any number of movies that showcase Dublin and its boroughs to fine effect, from ’70s cult classics like Flight Of The Doves and Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx to historical epics like Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (which receives a theatrical re-release this month) and contemporary tales like Lenny Abrahamson’s debut Adam & Paul. Then there are all the films (or filums, in local parlance) where Dublin doubles for any number of eclectic global locations, from ’60s spy thriller The Man Who Came In From The Cold – where Smithfield doubles, rather convincingly, as Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie – and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Barry Lyndon, to recent arthouse sensation The Lobster.

Now we have Sing Street, from writer/director John Carney, a great Dublin film from a great Dublin filmmaker, and an ode to the city that already has critics and audiences alike in absolute raptures. It opened 2016’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival in fine effect, and is arguably the finest Dub-centric crowd-pleaser we’ve seen since Alan Parker’s seminal The Commitments; like that 1990 classic, it’s a musical, in this case a semi-autobiographical tale of teenage misfits making music in an eighties Dublin recreated in all its polyester glory.

Sing Street

The trailer for John Carney's Sing Street

Carney already gave us the classic Dublin musical Once, a well-deserved Oscar winner (for Best Original Song) back in 2008; this new film doesn’t stray too far from a winning formula he has already revisited in 2013’s Begin Again, all tales of lovelorn losers who find redemption via music, usually performed as if their lives depended upon it. There’s a glorious lack of cynicism to Carney’s work, and Sing Street might just be his finest hour to date; a cast of young unknowns are gamely supported by established talents like Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jack Reynor, and the original songs, all co-written by Carney, more than hold their own against period classics from The Cure, Duran Duran and home-grown heroes The Blades. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sing Street goes the same route as Once, direct to the Broadway stage.

It’s always fun to see hitherto uncaptured corners of the capital immortalised on camera, in this case Synge Street CBS, the Dublin 8 boys’ school (Carney himself was a student) that gives the film it’s pun-tasic title – our rag-tag gang of misfits name their band for the place.

Sing Street is a great Dublin movie, a homecoming for a filmmaker who conquered the world, and then brought it all back home. Best of all, it makes you fall in love with Dublin all over again.

Sing Street was released in Irish cinemas on St. Patrick’s Day 2016. Naturally.

Derek is a writer and filmmaker, with a passion for popular culture, tech and Dublin. Find him on Linkedin and (occasionally) Twitter: @oldderekoconnor.