I recently saw The Commitments (1991) anew, & slightly surprised that it's as great as when I saw it in the theater as a new release so many years ago.
Sparkling cinematography of rugged Dublin streets; adorable working class guys projecting excellent character deliniation; the humanity & craggy beauty of Irish faces generally; the perfect balance of the comedic with serious situations...it all comes together to make The Commitments a captivating classic.
As the Irish lads built their rock 'n' soul cover band, the beauty of the dream could well have been spoilt if their love of rhythm & blues hadn't been backed up by good performances. Being only pretty good wouldn't do it.
Happily their recreation of the music is miraculous. The primary singer Deco Cuffe is a bit of a stinker but has authentic soul in his voice.
Deco is played by Andrew Strong so well it's a wonder he didn't go on to make lots of movies, but he remaines foremost a singer & recording artist.
Comparing Strong's version of "Dark End of the Street" to that of James Carr, it's kind of amazing to be able to say Strong more than holds his own.
An old trumpeter, Joey "The Lips" Fagan (Johnny Murphy), who once played with B. B. King & Wilson Picket had a message from the Lord, that the Irish brothers wouldn't shoot the legs off each other if they'd learn to play soul.
So a lot of young guys, one splendid old guy, & three gals for back-up vocals & occasional solos, are brought together by Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) eager to manage a band in homage to the best R & B of the 1960s.
The film captures an authentic glory that arises when musicians click. It celebrates the idea that a band doesn't have to be more than a transient local club hit to accumulate a lifetime of memories. Truly one of the great films of its genre.
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