It’s rare when a film makes you want to laugh, cry, and sing along—but Sing Street does just that. The Irish film from director John Carney (the man behind Once and Begin Again) premiered to rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. And when it finally hits theaters tomorrow, you can experience firsthand why everyone is falling in love with the film’s talented young cast, feel-good music, and the charming romance at its core.
Set in 1980s Dublin, the story follows a group of high schoolers who form a rock band for, really, no other reason than to impress girls and become popular. They just want to be cool—and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays Conor, a preppy newcomer to the inner-city Synge Street school who recruits a group of his musically-inclined classmates to start their own rock band. They call themselves Sing Street, and each member has some serious skill (look out for Mark McKenna as Eamon, a musical genius who can seemingly play every instrument imaginable when he’s not busy hanging out with rabbits—yes, rabbits).
But the band’s frontman, Conor, isn't purely driven by his passion for singing or songwriting. Really, he’s just trying to score face time with his new muse, Raphina (played by Lucy Boynton). A model and high school dropout who seems wise beyond her years, Raphina hesitantly teams up with the slightly younger crew when Conor asks her to star in their first music video. For her, it’s not exactly love at first sight—but she’s intrigued by Conor’s boldness and the chance to strut her stuff on-camera. So, she takes the gig.
From there, the story follows the ups and downs of Conor’s relationships with not just Raphina, but also his family, classmates, and one very controlling school headmaster. “This movie is all about finding your voice and finding yourself,” Walsh-Peelo told InStyle’s editors at Sundance. “I think a lot of people can relate to that.” The characters’ identity crises extend to their outward appearances, too. Conor—who’s now going by “Cosmo”—experiments by wearing makeup and switching up his hair color, while Raphina tries to look more mature by rocking the ultimate ’80s glam look of blue eyeshadow and what Boynton appropriately describes as “massive hair.”
It’s an edgy look that—according to Boynton—is influenced by the likes of Madonna and Debbie Harry. But there’s more to Raphina’s heavily-applied makeup than just a need for creative expression. “It’s her mask that [differentiates how] she presents herself to everyone else and who she actually is,” Boynton told InStyle. “She looks so much older with makeup, and as soon as it’s taken off, she’s vulnerable and looks more like a child.” It’s those heart-wrenching moments that truly stand out. “This is the kind of film that gives you an adrenaline rush,” said Boynton. “You get those tingles at the end where you want to cry, or you feel inspired to do something.”
Inspiring, Sing Street certainly is. Filled with teenage dreams and catchy songs that aim to make you feel “happy-sad,” the movie introduces you to a different world that you won’t want to leave. And it’s unlike any melody-filled movie in recent memory—despite what some of Walsh-Peelo's peers assumed when he first landed the part during an open casting call. “My friend wrote to me saying, ‘I’m delighted you’re in High School Musical 4,’” Walsh-Peelo said. “But it’s not like that. This music is so real, and it’s pretty much what we do all the time—we just get together and play a few songs.”
You can hear those songs for yourself when Sing Street hits select theaters on April 15, followed by a nationwide release on April 22. And if the tunes are still stuck in your head when you leave the theater (trust us, they will be), you’re in luck—the movie’s soundtrack will be available for download on April 15.
Check out the trailer below.