a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, The Commitments (1991), starring Robert Arkins, Glen Hansard and Andrew Strong.
©20th Century Fox
Per IMDb: “When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.”
That’s a pretty minimalist description, really. Jimmy Rabbitte (Arkins) is an early-twenties music fan in Dublin and wants to start a soul band that he can manage. He has friends, guitarist Outspan Foster (Hansard) and bassist Derek Scully (Kenneth McCluskey), who are the foundation and he holds open auditions at his family’s home where his dad, played by one of my favorite Irish actors, Colm Meaney, is a huge Elvis fan and thinks that the whole idea is preposterous: they’re in Dublin, there’s not a lot of “soul” in Dublin.
During auditions, a veteran trumpet player named Joey “The Lips” Fagan (Johnny Murphy) comes and helps direct the band in the right direction. Jimmy thinks that “The Lips” is too old but he soon realizes that Fagan can be beneficial. Jimmy approaches the neighborhood screw-up, Declan “Deco” Cuffe (Strong) to be the singer after hearing him sing at a wedding reception. He approaches his friend Bernie McGloughlin (Bronagh Gallagher) to be a backup singer because he wants her to bring his crush Imelda Quirke (Angeline Ball) along to also be a backup singer. Add in Natalie Murphy (Maria Doyle) into the mix and you have the Commitmentettes. Then, add a drummer, saxophone player and pianist and you have yourself a band. A no-experience-having band (other than Joey “The Lips”) but with some heart. If only the band could get along.
There is turmoil the entire time. Deco gets along with no one, people sleeping with other people, egos and jealousy. All of that. It’s in there. How does the band even survive? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out the answer to that question.
The only person who didn’t perform their own instrument in the film was Johnny Murphy who played Joey “The Lips” Fagen. But, the rest of the film featured real musicians who played their own instruments. The setting is gritty and very “blue collar” which was the point. The whole film was gritty. It was, at times, hard to understand what they were saying as the Dubliner accent was very heavy. The realism and human nature of the film came through prominently.
The one musician that I would have liked to have had more time in the sun was Glen Hansard (Outspan Foster). He was the music writer behind the musical and film Once. From that film came the tune “Falling Slowly.” The BCPF is a fan of his and I’ve grown to like what I’ve heard. The film had two soundtracks, which featured the cast recordings of many soul tunes from the 60s on. The first stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for over 70 weeks and reached a peak of #8.
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 88% Fresh with an Audience Score of 90%. IMDb rates it at 7.6 stars out of 10. I watched the film on Netflix and I will rate it 3.75 stars out of 5. It was good, interesting and entertaining but it wasn’t exceptionally moving. Have you seen it? If so, what did you think? What film would you like to read/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud.” – Jimmy Rabbitte