Most teenagers dream of being in a band but never get around to doing anything about it. Not so the determined youngsters in this flick, who set up a pop group to impress a girl, and in doing so take a journey of self-discovery.
Set in 1980s Dublin, newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays Cosmo, who is forced to leave his private school and transfer to Synge Street in Dublin’s inner city. Standing out like a sore thumb, he is incessantly bullied, but when he meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton) he discovers a new purpose in life.
Joining up with a motley crew of fellow wannabe pop stars, he sets about impressing the winsome beauty by asking her to appear in their video. As they develop musically, they also develop as people. Before long, the music is seeping into every aspect of their lives, as Cosmo tries to win the elusive Raphina’s heart while both deal with their own personal issues.
Director Carney has described this as semi-autobiographical, and indeed as a founding member of The Frames, he is well placed to tell a tale of music obsessed teens. His love for music really shines through, from the classic tracks of the era that pepper the movie to the original songs the band perform.
All of the young cast are sickeningly talented, and Walsh-Peelo takes to his leading man status like an old pro. The cast completely embrace their roles and the music videos they make, which offer an escapism from day to day drudgery, are some of the highlights of the film. Indeed the original songs are actually very good and ridiculously catchy. Although the older cast are all veterans their thunder is well and truly stolen here by these talented teens. For Irish audiences there is the added element of spotting all the landmarks scattered throughout the movie, and Carney has made Dublin look stunning throughout.
Dealing with coming of age stories can be tricky, but the script here rarely veers into cheesy territory, and when it does it swiftly navigates its way back out. Even the OTT ending will have you cheering for our heroes rather than sitting there thinking, “that would never happen!”
This has as much heart as The Commitments, and is somewhat like the baby sibling of that movie. Ridiculously feel-good and upbeat, it is impossible to leave this film without a smile on your face. Hopefully, it adds many more gongs to Carney’s ever-growing slew of awards. Expect to want to rewatch this again and again if only to hear the songs.
In Cinemas Now!