Virtual Coronavirus Feelgood Film Festival: The Commitments

The Commitments, Alan Parker's uplifting tale of a Dublin soul band. Photo: 20th Century Fox/IMDB

The Commitments, Alan Parker's uplifting tale of a Dublin soul band. Photo: 20th Century Fox/IMDB - Credit: Archant

Banish that downbeat feeling brought on by isolation with our feast of fun, feelgood films. Today’s selection is a modern classic bursting with energy and lots of great music

Feelgood Film Festival: The Commitments; dir: Alan Parker; starring: Robert Arkins, Andrew Strong, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Bronagh Gallagher, Glen Hansard, Felim Gormley, Johnny Murphy (1991)

The Commitments is exactly the sort of life-affirming movie you need to watch during a worrying health-crisis. It tells the story of a gifted young soul band in Dublin and how they almost made the big-time. It’s the sort of film you can revisit countless times and never tire of. It’s one of the most immersive, delightful, feelgood movies of all time, full of gleeful soul classics like In The Midnight Hour and Try A Little Tenderness which will have you fighting the urge to leap your feet and dance around the living room.

This wonderful coming-of-age movie is the result of wonderful team work between director Alan Parker, novelist Roddy Doyle and Porridge/Lovejoy scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais.

The real stroke of genius was Parker’s decision to cast a collection of semi-pro actor/musicians living and working in Dublin drawn to public auditions. You really do get a feeling that you are watching the creation and then implosion of a fledgling band in Dublin during the early ‘90s.

The film is seen through the eyes Robert Arkins as their wannabe manager Jimmy Rabbitte and it’s his engaging presence and fantasy documentary commentary which introduces you to this group of charismatic, talented people.

The dynamic within the band is what drives the movie forward. They are all good, raw musicians, instinctive rather than well-schooled, but it is Jimmy that forces them to rehearse and become something-like a professional outfit.

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Having put together a band of real actor/musicians, Alan Parker has the good sense to let them play. Most music movies only give the audience flashes of performance – usually in the form of a montage or inter-woven with dramatic off-stage incidents. Parker presents The Commitments almost like a documentary and he knows that music lies at the very heart of the story. He has a band that he knows can play and so he lets them loose on complete numbers without jump cutting into the next scene.

At the beginning they are not terribly good but the quickly improve, always a little rough and ready, but that’s part of their charm, until towards the end they are triumphant and that’s the real joy of this ‘90s classic.

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