The Commitments Review

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Jimmy Rabbitte decides to form a soul band in the slums of Dublin. He brings the music to the people with the band's progressive success, though character traits within his band-members lead to dischord in the initially perfectly harmonic mentality.


Given the chance to manage a combo who specialise in Radio 2 crap at weddings, Dublin hustler Jimmy Rabbite is struck with a vision, and resolves to tranform the group into The Commitments, a powerful force who plan to short circuit all that revisionary U2 and Sinead O’Connor nonsense by doing something that will really put Irish music on the map.

        With his conviction that the Irish are the blacks of Europe and Dubliners the blacks of Ireland, Jimmy decides their niche lies in old soul standards, calls in a piss-headed bus conductor to sing, and a weird assortment of musicians – from a guru-like oldie who claims to have played trumpet with Elvis and Otis to a medical student who switches between church organ and rocking piano – plus three girls to do backing vocals who look pretty. Despite arguments and ordeals, the group gets on stage, and the film pretty much becomes a succession of favourite numbers, topped off with an ironic and hilarious version of the American Graffiti where-are-they-now-type ending.

        Having made Fame – marvellously punctured here by a skinhead who bawls “Fame, I’m Going to Live Till Tuesday” – Parker here turns out a rethink of the young talents-on-the-make musical, the no-hope misfits following the eternal showbiz tradition of clicking onstage and coming apart behind the scenes. With plenty of gritty Dublin humour, albeit rather too much of the Derek and Clive badmouth variety, and a succession of very funny vignettes, almost in the Bill Forsyth tradition, The Commitments has a sense of fun that has been missing from Parker’s mainly dreary and miserabilist films of late. A pop musical in the way Cliff’s films or Elvis’s 50s vehicles were, this is one liable to sneak by even the most committed Parkerphobe. Highly recommended

This is an infectious musical story of rise-and-fall.