We’ve all been gifted with enough cinematic tributes to the power of rock ’n’ roll to last several lifetimes.
But even if “Sing Street,” the latest from music movie auteur John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has nothing new to say about the liberating joy of a good riff, it offers a pleasant journey though classic ’80s nostalgia tropes with just the right hint of authentic yearning for artistic greatness.
The picture follows Conor Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), sent to a strict Dublin Catholic school in 1985, where he and newfound friends form a band for reasons that at first seem simple — to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton) and as a much-needed means of escape from his parents’ marital troubles — and slowly morph into the deeper sort of artistic awakening that characterizes the birth of every great future talent.
The movie is lovingly photographed, lingering on the blue-collar cityscapes and rolling green hills, framing the Irish Sea under gray clouds as a sort of rolling carpet leading to the promise of tomorrow, as represented by the bright lights of London.
It’s also a lot of fun, a sort of new wave greatest hits compendium with everyone from The Cure to Duran Duran fittingly represented on the soundtrack and given tribute in the fictional band’s songs.