Blu-Ray Review – The Commitments

The Commitments isn’t just that cd you find in every charity shop across the UK. It was a highly popular film that came out in 1991 that was directed by Alan Parker. It was a kind of return to the British filmmaking for Alan Parker who had worked almost exclusively in the US for the majority of the ’80s with great films like Birdy and my favourite film of his work Angel Heart. He has said since The Commitments came out it’s the only film he has ever directed that he couldn’t wait to get out of bed for.

The Commitments is based upon the novel by Roddy Doyle who also co-wrote the screenplay. Like all of Doyle’s work it’s set in the working class world of Dublin, which is where he comes from. It’s about Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) who wants to manager a soul/r&b band in the vein of The Four Tops or any other ’60s soul group. It documents his ups and downs getting the band together. Eventually he gets a group together but despite everything it’s bound to fall apart. The band is full of such disparate individuals and they clash and some get together etc. However they do play some gigs on the way.

Parker obviously has a deep love of the material and the characters and it’s certainly shows on the screen. It radiates with a passion for the place and the music. The songs are all covers of soul standards which Alan Parker hand-picked after it was wilted down from 300. However it’s very much a Irish version of Fame (which Parker also directed) with an air of social realism but is only skin deep at the most. It’s very much a product of the end of the Thatcher ’80s but lacks any of the real political bite of its contemporaries.

Overall if you love The Commitments like a lot of people do, it was a smash hit in the UK and has since spawned a smash hit West End stage musical.Despite some reservations it’s a fun upbeat film but if your always a bit wary of uplifting rags to riches tales you may want to give it a miss. However you can blame The Commitments for starting The Corrs who got noticed because Andrea Coor has a role in the film and the band blew up because of the film’s success. The disc includes plenty of interviews and documentaries on the film along with a commentary track.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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