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USA 1991
Directed by
Alan Parker
118 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Commitments

Alan Parker's film about a Dublin soul band, The Commitments, is far less glossy than the director’s huge 1980 hit, Fame, and is much more intimately scaled but despite being liberally peppered with the f-word is hamstrung by its conventional execution.

Based on a novel by Roddy Doyle and set in unemployment-wracked Dublin it follows the exploits of Jimmy (Robert Arkins) who with a couple of mates puts a band together to bring soul music to Dublin. Despite its geniality, dramatically there’s not much to the film with one note characters and no attempt to explain why in the late 80s a bunch of young Dubliners are so committed to playing covers of soul classics or, perhaps even more importantly, why we should care about a covers band.

Despite those deficiencies, the film’s greatest strength are those covers. Most films of this nature give you a few bars of a song before cutting away to visual overlays as studio musos take over. Here, played by the non-professional actors playing the band members you get not only full versions of soul classics such as “Mustang Sally” and ''Try A Little Tenderness” but very good ones. The outstanding performer is Andrew Strong, who plays the lead singer and has a Joe Cockerish vocal style but is a better singer.  As the songs constitute about 50%of the film they are enough to carry you through what is otherwise unremarkable fare.




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