Writer/director John Carney makes his third film on the themes of love and music (after Once and Begin Again) with this wonderfully nostalgic and personal
tale of an 80's teenager starting his own band to impress an older girl.
As with the two previous films, the original songs are both an effective way of getting across the underlying themes of the film and decent songs in their
own right. Carney and co-writer Gary Clark (with a little help from Once's Glen Hansard and Begin Again/Maroon 5's Adam Levine) make excellent use of
various 80's band styles in creating the songs (amusingly mirrored in the changing visual look of the band).
A mostly young cast make the material really sing (sorry) with Ferdia Walsh-Peelo a solid find as awkward front-man Conor. Lucy Boynton is also very good
as Raphina, the older girl he wants to impress, while Jack Reynor excels as the older brother who Conor looks up to. Of the more experienced cast, Maria
Doyle Kennedy (along with Hansard another connection to The Commitments) and Aidan Gillen are good as the parents on the verge of breaking up, while Father
Ted's Don Wycherley (Father Cyril Macduff) gets to play a more unpleasant bullying man of the cloth here as the head brother of Conor's school.
It's not an entirely perfect film. The music, as good as it is, is perhaps a little too slick and polished for the music of a just formed teen school band.
While most of the band aside from Conor, co-writer/guitarist/rabbit lover Eamon and ginger-haired, braces wearing manager Darren, are disappointingly
These are minor faults however in a film that has plenty of charm and energy to make up for them. Hats off to Carney too for managing to make another
music-based film without ever getting the feeling that's he's covering familiar ground. A toe-tapping feel good film.