Comedy Drama

'Sing Street' DVD Review: Schoolhouse rock & roll

July 27, 2016Ben MK

Bittersweet — that's one way to describe writer/director John Carney's Once and Begin Again, both of which were films about love and loss, framed around journeys of musical self-discovery. Carney's latest, however, downplays the melancholiness for a more upbeat — not to mention, nostalgic — overall tone.

Set in 1985 Dublin, Sing Street follows 14-year-old Conor Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who, on account of his parents' financial difficulties, has just been transferred to a new school in a rough neighborhood. At Synge Street Christian Brothers School, Conor finds himself picked on by one of the school bullies (Ian Kenny) and harassed for not conforming to the school's strict, black-shoes-only dress code by its principal (Don Wycherley). However, just when Conor thinks that life can't get any worse, he meets a mysterious girl named Raphina (Lucy Boynton).

Seeking to impress her, Conor sets out to form a band. And soon, he and his friends — Darren (Ben Carolan), Eamon (Mark McKenna), Ngig (Percy Chamburuka), Garry (Karl Rice) and Larry (Conor Hamilton) — are off and running. Calling themselves "Sing Street," they begin to write songs and film music videos emulating their pop idols, bands like Duran Duran, The Cure and Hall & Oates. Encouraged by his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) and drawing inspiration from Raphina as his muse, Conor discovers that he has a gift for music that just can't be ignored.

If the notion of musically-inclined high schoolers conjures up images of kids dancing and singing their way from scene to scene, perish the thought, because Sing Street is about as far removed from the likes of High School Musical and Glee as it can get, while still remaining steeped in the musical genre. Suffice to say, if you took a liking to Carney's previous musical dramas, Sing Street feels very much in-step. Touching, well-acted, and like opening a time capsule full of '80s pop culture goodness, it will leave you humming its feel-good melodies for days.

Sing Street's DVD presentation is almost certainly inferior to its high-definition counterpart; however, that's not to say that this standard-definition image can't be appreciated. Sharpness and clarity fare pretty well, all things considered, black levels and contrast are nicely balanced, and though colors are somewhat drab and overcast at the outset, the movie's visual palette becomes noticeably more vibrant and varied as the film progresses. As for the disc's audio, the 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix is quite adept when it comes to the primarily dialogue-and-music-driven soundtrack, making the combination of synthesizers, guitars, drums and bass on standout tracks like "Riddle of the Model," "Beautiful Sea" and "Drive It Like You Stole It" sound oh so sweet.

Elevation Pictures' single-disc DVD release includes the following extras:

  • Making Sing Street (4:55) - The cast and crew comment on the origins of the movie, the story and the characters, the music and Carney's direction.
  • Writer/Director John Carney & Adam Levine Talk Sing Street (3:26) - Carney and Levine discuss the film's closing song, "Go Now," as well as the movie itself.
  • Cast Auditions (17:45) - Nine separate featurettes, one in which Carney touches on the importance of finding the right ensemble of actors, followed by snippets of audition footage from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna, Ben Carolan, Ian Kenny, Percy Chamburuka, Karl Rice and Conor Hamilton.

Sing Street is available from Elevation Pictures as of July 26th, 2016. The DVD features English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 46 Mins.

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