Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 106 mins

Star Rating: 4/5

IF it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the mantra of John Carney, writer-director of Oscar-winning romance Once and Begin Again, who remains in a bittersweet musical groove for this effortlessly charming coming-of-age story.

Set in 1985 Dublin, Sing Street revisits the decade of questionable fashion choices, when Frankie told us all to relax and Duran Duran frolicked on sun-kissed beaches with the girls of Rio. Against this vibrant backdrop, Carney charts the rise of a pop group formed by boys' school misfits, who escape the economic hardships of the era through their infectious, self-penned music.

Life knocks the lads down, but they get back up again, inspiring classmates to rebel against the dictates of their school's disciplinarian headmaster, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley).

Carney's script delicately touches upon themes of sexual abuse, domestic violence and adultery, counterbalancing the lead characters' exuberance with harsh life lessons. Laughter and tears come together in sweet harmony.

Robert (Aidan Gillen) and his wife Penny (Maria Doyle Kennedy) reluctantly tighten their purse strings, to the chagrin of their children Brendan (Jack Reynor), Ann (Kelly Thornton) and Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Fifteen-year-old Conor transfers to a boys' school, where he falls foul of resident bully Barry (Ian Kenny), but makes one friend in red-haired outcast Darren (Ben Carolan).

Desperate to catch the eye of a local girl called Raphina (Lucy Boynton), Conor forms a band called Sing Street and ropes in some of the local kids including multi-instrumentalist Eamon (Mark McKenna) and duo Larry (Conor Hamilton) and Garry (Karl Rice).

Sing Street is 106 minutes of fizzing, pop-infused joy that unfolds though the innocent, questioning eyes of sensitive teenager Conor and his brothers in musical arms. Walsh-Peelo anchors the young cast with a performance of touching vulnerability, and his chemistry with on-screen brother Reynor leaves a big lump in the throat. Songs composed especially for the film by Carney and Gary Clark including the barn-storming Drive It Like You Stole It are perfectly crafted.