Film: The Commitments
Cast includes: Robert Arkins (What Are You Looking At?), Angeline Ball (The General), Colm Meaney (Star Trek), Andrew Strong (went on to a music career, including one platinum disc and a Grammy nomination), Jonny Murphy (Angela’s Ashes), Maria Doyle Kennedy (The General), Bronagh Gallagher (Last Chance Harvey)
Director: Alan Parker (Fame, Mississippi Burning)
Genre: Comedy/drama, music (1991), based on a novel by Roddy Doyle (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha)
In brief: “Tell us about the early days, Jimmy. How did it all begin?” [Say this with an Irish accent.] Jimmy Rabbitte interviews himself… in the bathtub, in mirrors, in the men’s room. He’s practicing for when his band becomes famous. Jimmy teams up with two friends to form a band. He doesn’t play an instrument… he’s the manager. When they ask him what they’ll be playing, Jimmy tells them, “Your music should be about where you’re from… Soul. Soul is the music of sex. And it’s the music of the factories!” An ad in the paper has wannabe band members lining up outside the Rabbitte home. “Have you got soul? If so, the world’s hardest working band is looking for you.” Jimmy suffers through some pretty excruciating… but funny… auditions. Eventually he assembles his band, including Deco, an amazing but obnoxious lead singer and three female back-up singers.
He puts them all on a diet of pure Soul… James Brown, Wilson Picket, Aretha Franklin, etc. When one of the band members finally asks, “Don’t you think we’re a bit white to sing Soul?” Jimmy explains, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe. The Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the North Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, and say it proud… I’m black and I’m proud!” The band members aren’t convinced of Jimmy sanity, but they go along. And for the name of the band… “The Commitments.” They’re the saviors of Soul… if they can stop bickering and squabbling long enough.
They get off to a rough start, but eventually the band members plus everyone around them are infected with Soul. In the confessional when the church organist tells the priest that he’s "always humming 'When a Man Loves a Woman' by Marvin Gaye", the priest corrects him. “It was Percy Sledge.” The music alone makes this one great fun. But the script is full of wonderful lines, and the movie has many scenes that are memorable. The cast is mostly made up of unknowns, some of whom have gone on to careers in film and music. Deco, the lead singer was just 16 when the film was shot, and he’s truly amazing. In fact, every band member is wonderful. Dublin, as well, becomes a character in the movie… when they have a photo taken of the band, Jimmy says, “We’re not looking for a fucking postcard. We’re looking for urban decay!” Gritty, quirky, irreverent and great music… The Commitments has it all.
4 popped kernels
Popped kernels for awesome music, wonderful, original story, unbelievable acting... especially the lead singer... excellent script. This one is great fun... hard to beat.
The Commitments Soundtrack
Nowhere to Run
Chain of Fools
Dark End of the Street
I Can’t Stand the Rain
Try a Little Tenderness
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
I Never Loved a Man
Bye Bye Baby
Take Me to the River
In the Midnight Hour
Too Many Fish in the Sea