The Commitments

Around 1991 ‘The Commitments’ was one of the first movies I ever saw in the local film theatre. Now, a dozen years later, it still looked fresh when I watched it on tv. It’s one of my favourite music movies, directed by Alan Parker (Fame!). The opening scenes show vivid images of the poorer parts of Dublins, reminding me a bit of ‘Angela’s Ashes’ or the books of Dickens. But ‘The Commitments’ turns out to be much more cheerful, though not devoid of dramatic elements. The story resembles the later movie ‘The Full Monty’ a little. Only this time the working-class characters do not form a group of strippers, but an Irish soul group. Yes, ‘Irish soul’, an expression which lived on after the movie. In fact there is still is a Commitments band giving concerts, and various cd’s have been released.

Jimmy Rabbitte is determined to form a new and successful pop group. Hilarious audition scenes follow. Finally a band is put together, with a rich variety of characters. According to Jimmy’s logic ‘The Commitments’ must choose soul as their musical style: ‘the Irish are the blacks of Europe. Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. North Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin’. One of the members is star leadsinger Deco Cuffe (Andrew Strong), who was discovered while singing completely drunk at a wedding party. Another nice character is veteran Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, whose trumpet is sent by God and who claims to have jammed with all the legends in the 60’s. Despite his religious nature he has affairs with all three female background singers.

With a lot of humour this film tells the story of the rapid rise and fall of the peculiar group. Jimmy does his best to keep the group together, but the members are constantly fighting backstage with one another. Though I don’t have a special interest in soul music, I found myself singing along with the songs towards the end of the movie… An entertaining and energetic film, only the ending gives a little quick and unfinished impression.