Youthful Optimism

I am not a 14-year-old Irish schoolboy in a rock band during the 1980s. Yet, when I watched Sing Street (2016), I felt like I’d come home. The film is about Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a lackluster teenage boy who starts a band in order to impress a girl—that premise alone would usually illicit a decisive eye roll from me. But as I came out of the movie reaching for my phone to download the catchy soundtrack, I realized that the characters’ youthful, blind optimism reminded me of my own teenage years as an unobtrusive, unheard girl, who was discovering filmmaking as a way to finally make people listen.

It is the endearingly grainy, '80s home movie haze that is Sing Street that got to me. It is the ideas that an unmusical patchwork of strangers can create hits and that the too-cool-for-school model next door can fall in love with you that had me yearning for my uninhibitedly hopeful high school self. A world in which mere melodies can save the whole school from the oppressive headmaster and the bully becomes the nerdy kid’s bodyguard is the type of world that I want, so desperately, to be able to believe in right now.

My favorite song in the film, “Drive It Like You Stole It,” is the band’s “fake it till you make it” anthem. Cosmo’s band is not extraordinarily talented, but when you get a ragtag group of boys together doing something they love, magic can happen. As an aspiring film director, I don’t identify with Cosmo, the lead singer, but rather with the nerdy manager who doubles as a cameraman for the band's grungy music videos. Having grown up toting around a dingy camcorder and finding stories within the small world in which I existed, that feeling of watching an unremarkable reality turn into a work of art is essential to my conception of cinema.

This is a film that prioritizes well-intentioned corniness and unapologetic heart over high-budget, perfectly-manicured gloss. It was exactly what this cynical-college-film-studies-major needed to see in order to remember what made me fall in love with the medium in the first place. As I grow older and attempt to assert my creative voice within an uninviting industry, Sing Street is my catchy reminder that "you gotta grab the wheel and own it / and drive it like you stole it."–Ali Arminio

Ali Arminio ’18 is a Film Studies and English major at Wesleyan University. She is the website producer for Reverberations. 

Sing Street
Directed by John Carney
Written by John Carney and Simon Carmody
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1h 46