Is 'Sing Street' A True Story? The Film Makes The '80s Seem Like A Magical Time
Once writer/director John Carney has a brand new film debuting this weekend, and like his other films, it's already garnering loads of critical acclaim. The new film, Sing Street, takes place in 1980s Dublin and tells the story of teenager Conor Lalor. Conor starts life at a new school, and desperate to impress a girl, he decides to start a band, and is aided in his quest by his older brother. It's a plausible film about interpersonal relationships and not one about the formation of a famous band, so is Sing Street based on a true story?
Sing Street is a work of fiction, and like Carney's other movies, he wrote the screenplay himself. The characters are made up, but that doesn't mean that the inspiration came from nowhere. Much of the film is actually based in part on Carney's own experiences growing up in Ireland with the music of the '80s. First of all, the pivotal school in the film from which the punny title draws its inspiration is Synge Street CBS, and it was attended by none other than Carney himself in real life back in the '80s. So not only is Conor a representation of Carney by attending Synge Street in the film, but versions of several of Carney's old classmates pop up as well.
"The film is a funny version of my own youth," Carney told Donald Clarke of The Irish Times . "Thinly disguised friends of mine from Synge Street are in it. So it feels as if I have left a memoir and people are laughing at it. That really is great." Additionally, Carney was a member of a band in his youth, playing bass with Irish rock group The Frames from 1991 to 1993. There is also speculation, though unconfirmed, that the role of Conor's brother Brendan in the film was inspired by Carney's own older brother, Jim, who passed away in 2013. A reason for the speculation could be the dedication that appears in the film's end credits: "For brothers everywhere".
However, despite the numerous parallels to Carney's own upbringing, and his admission that the film is a pseudo memoir, he maintains that Sing Street is not really about his life. "Look, Sing Street was an idea I had ages ago, before Once even," he said in his Irish Times interview. "A kid on a guitar with a bike: that’s a great starting point. But as it took form and developed it moved from me. It’s not my story."
So even though John Carney looked at his own backstory for some inspiration for Sing Street, the film, its characters, and its story are not based in reality — at least not totally.
Images: The Weinstein Company