The following piece contains spoilers about the end of Sing Street.
John Carney’s delightful, Golden Globe-nominated Sing Street ends with the film’s hero, teenage Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), steering a boat across the English channel with the love of his life, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), in tow. Adam Levine’s original song “Go Now” plays as waves crest and rain splashes, making the entire sequence feel like the best music video that never was.
For Carney, playing with reality and audience expectations was intentional. “It was a big elaborate sequence, and it was a funny one because it has to look like a video,” Carney told EW. “The idea of the scene is whether this is in his head now or if it’s happening. I didn’t want to answer that. I didn’t want it to become completely confirmed it was a video.”
The ambiguity is understandable considering Carney’s film — an ode to Irish teens in the 1980s who start a pretty legitimate rock band — is littered with videos created by Conor and his friends. (There’s a dream sequence too, for the earworm track “Drive It Like You Stole It,” but that scene is clearly presented as onscreen fiction.) Whether or not Conor and Raphina are truly experiencing their waterlogged final trip across the channel in that exact fashion is left up to viewers.
“When you are caught up in your own drama, there is a sort of magical realism — particularly when you’re young — about what’s happening,” Carney said. “You fill in the visuals in your head, slightly. I wanted to capture that, but I didn’t want to qualify anything at the end or tell the audience how they should think or feel. I wanted them to almost experience it like a video in a way.”
As for the choice of Levine’s “Go Now,” that was also an intentional shift from what came before.
“I wanted that end song to seem like a different tone from the rest of the movie,” Carney said. “I didn’t want to hear Ferdia’s voice again, and I wanted to hear a voice people sort of recognized and knew. And I didn’t want it to be somebody from the ’80s because we had a few needle drops in the movie that did that. It was a tricky one, naturally.”
Carney knew Levine from their work together on the director’s “Begin Again” (in which Levine was a costar), and the pair teamed up again for “Go Now” with some help from “Once” star Glen Hansard, who wrote some lyrics, according to Carney.
“We wanted to create something that was like a soothing sort of real end-roll moment. That sounded like it could even be the brother’s lyrics or it could even be a projection of how these guys could sound in the future, like the ’90s,” Carney said. “There’s a sense of heartbreak and sadness, there’s a sense of hopefulness about it as well. It’s not a pop song, it’s a ballad.”
Watch the video for Levine’s “Go Now” below.
Sing Street is streaming now on Netflix and Amazon Video.