Review of Commitments (1991)

By Christine Iannicelli

1

One of my most vivid memories as a child is riding in the car with my dad and going through his music collection in the glove compartment.  Inevitably, I would come across the The Commitments, which was one of his favorite soundtracks to listen to (and still is).  I’d stare at the photos on the CD cover, confused as to who these people were and why I had never heard of them before.

My father explained to me that this was the soundtrack to an independent film about a group of working class Dubliners who form a soul band.  We would drive and listen to these Irish men and women sing classics like “Mustang Sally”, “Land of a Thousand Dances”, and “In the Midnight Hour”.  I enjoyed the music so much that I couldn’t wait to watch the movie!

When I was old enough (the film is littered with profanity and sexual innuendos), my dad let me watch it.  Frankly, I was a little disappointed.  The actors’ accents were pretty thick so I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying and the film didn’t speak to me like I thought it would.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  It was an interesting concept for a film (like an Irish version of That Thing You Do) and there were several comedic moments.  The band’s manager, Jimmy, is constantly pretending to be interviewed by a newscaster when he’s alone (usually in the bathroom) and his Elvis-loving father brought a smile to my face.  But as a pre-teen, I couldn’t understand why the band members fought all the time and how they could let their egos get in the way of their success.  Years later, I realized that’s exactly what the film was going for: to show us the price of fame.

Every now and then, I’ll check out the film from the Gabriele Library and watch it.  Maybe it’s because The Commitments is a common interest my father and I both share, or maybe it’s because the music is so catchy.  The cast, who were mostly unknown at the time and chosen for their musical talent rather than acting ability, do a great job of making their eccentric characters come to life.  The lead singer of The Commitments is Deco, played by Andrew Strong.  Only 16 at the time, his character looks, acts, and eats like a slob; yet, when he sings, you forget all of that and are captivated by his voice.  His rendition of “At the Dark End of the Street” is truly memorable.  If nothing else, watch this film for the music.

Favorite Quote from the Movie:

“The Lord doesn’t like it when we whisper.”

“Why, is he deaf?”

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