Director of “Once” and “New York Melody”, John Carney signs another musical film with “Sing Street”. A very personal project for the filmmaker, since it is largely inspired by his history.
Sing street : school of rock
After having built two musical romances, one in Dublin and the other across the Atlantic, with Ounce and New York Melody, John Carney keeps his momentum going with Sing street. For this feature film released in 2016, the filmmaker returns to the Irish capital and goes back in time to the 1980s.
While his parents are no longer doing financially, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) must leave private school to join a public establishment in order to reduce family expenses. And the teenager immediately discovers that the rules are not the same. Between two fights and two classes disrupted by particularly energetic students, he regularly sees Raphina (Lucy Boynton) hanging out around the college.
To approach him, Conor explains to him that he is part of a group and that he would need a model to appear in their next clip. Problem: this rock and pop enthusiast doesn’t have a band. He therefore decides toget one up urgently and works diligently on the first compositions, influenced by the leading musicians of the time and guided by the benevolent advice of his big brother Brendan (Jack Reynor).
Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Kelly Thornton round out the cast of Sing street. As for the soundtrack, the film is carried by the titles of Duran Duran, Motörhead, The Cure or Joe Jackson.
Dive into an era
In addition to the catchy musical energy it deploys, the feature film is an ode to brotherhood, daring and friendship perfectly anchored in the time which it transcribes. In order not to exceed the budget, John Carney and his team wanted to minimize the replenishments. They preferred to shoot in the streets of Dublin having hardly changed since the 80s, in addition to multiplying the scenes indoors.
The love story and the group of Sing street emerge in an atmosphere of precariousness. Conor’s family is in the midst of an implosion and his older brother has had to give up certain ambitions for their parents. In addition, the establishment which it integrates does not lack troublemakers and other bullies against which it must impose itself.
A universe that gives him desires to escape and freedom that the director knows well. Sing street is a largely autobiographical project for John Carney. Asked by the site Screen Crush in January 2016, the filmmaker explains:
It’s a pretty autobiographical story. I formed a group at school and it allowed me to score points on all fronts. The bullies were no longer on my back. (…) It distracted the teachers from the fact that I was not providing any work. At least I was doing something. It made my parents say, ‘Well, he’s not a completely talentless guy. And I had the girl I liked.
An autobiographical project … But not only
If the paths in adolescence of Conor and John Carney are therefore quite similar, their personalities are radically different according to the director. The filmmaker admits, for example, to have been much more withdrawn than the hero of his film. Also, the character’s family has little to do with his own. During an interview for The Verge, he declares on this subject:
The family dynamic is nothing like that of my family, really. I think it’s an amalgamation of several different families that I thought I knew, by observing them or through their children. But the biggest difference is that Conor is an incredibly handsome, self-confident teenager. I was not like that at all. I had an inner confidence in myself, but I was not bragging. (…) The moment Ferdia got the role, the film changed significantly. I think it’s important not to force an actor to say things a certain way. So I followed the insane assurance that Ferdia has. He’s hilarious. And it is very current. Children have that kind of self-confidence these days. It’s not that I used it, I just didn’t fight it.
An assurance that is also fully felt on the screen.