Sing Street is, admittedly, catnip for anyone who grew up with 1980s bands like Duran Duran and The Cure, yet writer-director John Carney (Once) invests enough emotional authenticity to make it also work on its own, non-nostalgic terms. When tight finances and his parents’ impending breakup necessitate a new school for 14-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), he finds refuge and community in 1985 Dublin by forming a band (never mind that he can’t play any instruments). Sing Street never quite finds a consistent strategy for its melding of reality and fantasy; it’s highly unlikely that these kids would be as good as they are (the original pop songs are mostly written by Carney and Gary Clark), yet we’re meant to take most of their performances at face value. There is, however, a fantastic number near the end where the band, performing at a moribund school dance, suddenly transforms into the slick, decked-out group they’re imagining in their heads, and the crowd transforms as well. (Conor’s parents even show up to happily dance together, a touch that made me shed a tear.) I wish Carney had employed this technique throughout, yet the other musical numbers have enough joyous energy that it mostly doesn’t matter, while the scenes of Conor’s home life—especially his conversations with his mentoring older brother (Jack Reynor)—are achingly honest and true.