Sunday Movie: ‘The Commitments’ (1991) (Ireland Month)

Having searched a lot about which Irish movies to watch for Ireland Month, I decided to start off by watching one of the most well-known Irish films (or at least I presume it is, since it was featured in most of the lists I found), The Commitments. Directed by Alan Parker in 1991, this movie is an adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s novel The Commitments.

The film is set in Dublin and it follows the endeavours of of a young Irishman, Jimmy, who, being tired of listening to the same Irish music again and again, aspires to make a world famous soul band comprised entirely by Irish people. When trying to decide the genre of music his band will be playing, he indicatively says that he chose soul music, since Irish are ‘the black people of Europe’. The band is made up of people who are completely different from each other, yet they all share a common dream of becoming famous and making it big in the music industry. Overcoming most of the shortcomings that they face, the band achieves to successfully perform on stage and gain some recognition. However, things are not as simple as they may seem.

I have to admit this film was not what I initially expected. There were a lot of comedic elements in it, which helped alleviate the heavy atmosphere that might have been created by all the hurdles of each character’s life that we came to witness. I feel that not enough time was given to develop all of the characters or at least to let the viewer create a more stable image of and relationship with the characters. I liked the fact that everyone had a bad (and at times really bad) side to them, and that was revealed steadily throughout the film.

Since it is a rather old movie now, I doubt the images of Dublin shown and how people’s lives were depicted are similar to those of today. However, it was really nice taking a glimpse into the Dublin of the ’90s and seeing how people made it through the day or how they spent their time. I feel, though, that if I was more familiar with and accustomed to some more Irish cultural elements, I would have enjoyed this film a lot more.

The Commitments is a film full of music, people mainly from the working class who struggle to make a difference, people different from one another and some really unexpected views of Dublin. Usually, films like this are a hit or miss, and even though I didn’t love the film, I certainly enjoyed watching it and gaining a view of Irish life I would be unaware of otherwise.