Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo stars as Connor, an Irish teen growing up in Dublin in the '80s. As his parents' marriage crumbles and bills mount, Connor is transferred from his posh school to a grotty Catholic school where the priests look on while students brawl. (The school motto translates to "act manly.") To deal with the daily horror, and impress Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a girl living in a group home near the new school, Connor decides to start a band.
That's where his big brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor), steps in. If Connor is going to play music, then he should bloody well know the good stuff, right? Brendan brings out everything from the Cure to Joe Jackson, giving his brother a musical education that might also include a few important life lessons.
Sing Street isn't a complicated story, but there's beauty in its simplicity. Carney lets Connor be a boy in love with a girl, while he's exploring his musical identity. One day Connor looks like Simon LeBon, the next he's channeling Spandau Ballet. And Walsh-Peelo is so naturally relatable that you can't help but want to be on this ride with him.
But then, the entire cast couldn't be more charming if they'd taken lessons from the love child of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Reynor, in particular, is hilarious. He's one to watch – not that you'll be able to help it, considering how many high-profile films he has coming down the pike, including The Secret Scripture with Rooney Mara and Theo James and Free Fire with Brie Larson and Armie Hammer.
Plus, as promised, the soundtrack is terrific. Hall & Oates, The Cure and Duran Duran pop up, but you'll want it for the Sing Street songs. "To Find You" is as poignant a tune as you'll ever find, and "Drive It Like You Stole It" is such kicky fun, you'll wonder days later where you heard it. Then it will all come back to you with a smile.