Review: The Commitments
Blu-ray: The Commitments (1991)
In Dublin, Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) is sick of failing to sell knocked off gear and wants a better life, so decides to form a soul band with his friends Outspan (Glen Hansard) and Derek (Ken McCluskey). He holds auditions in his parents house and manages to assemble a rag-tag band of misfits.
Sometimes the passage of time is not kind to once lauded films, and on re-watching The Commitments I did feel that it was … gasp…. a little bit dated. However, the fast talking, fucking foul mouthed bollocks dialogue and music do still make this a classic ‘Musical’, even more so because it’s based in North Dublin and the actors retain their accents.
It is a real snapshot of the early 90s (watching people queue up to sign on the dole) and the actual film-making itself (jerky close-ups to give it that ‘live music’ feel; I was amazed to see it won an Oscar for editing!) give the whole package a feeling of 80s nostalgia (even though it was made in 1991).
Based on the writing God (my opinion) Roddy Doyle’s (if you’ve never read any of his books, do so, he will make you hoot with laughter, the man’s a wonder) novelette of the same name, we follow Jimmy Rabbitte whipping the band members into a soul band only for their egos and in-fighting to end their careers prematurely. This is a film of heart, but it’s also extremely funny. The constant chatting, swearing and fighting could be annoying, but I find it quite endearing (but then my mother is Irish so I’m used to it). Apart from the humour, the real centre of the film is its music. Watch the extras to see how each cast member was chosen, knowing that most of them had never acted before shows what a great job director Alan Parker did with this film. Knowing that singer Andrew Strong was only 16 years old when he made the film is astonishing. Then there’s the music; whoever doesn’t like a catalogue of songs like Mustang Sally, Take Me To the River, and Try a Little Tenderness has no soul (see what I did there?).
The film was a critical and commercial success at the time and has retained its beloved status in the UK. It won four BAFTA awards, including Best Film and was nominated for an Oscar. Now on its 25th anniversary year, RLJ Entertainment are releasing “The Commitments” on Blu-ray for the first time and the gold here are the extras.
A few ‘old’ making of’s are interesting to see how the film was made at the time, but the new interview with Parker and cast members Arkins, Hansard and McCluskey is fab, along with Parker’s very heartfelt and honestly entertaining audio commentary which gives a new light on the film, including the zooming close-up shots which I think ages the film somewhat. Along with a music video for ‘Treat Her Right’ which I have no memory of! This is a solid package for any fan of the film.
- Digital copy of the film
- 25 Years Later: new interview with Alan Parker and cast
- Audio commentary with Alan Parker
- Four behind-the-scenes featurettes
- Music video
- Image galleries
- Collectible booklet
The Commitments 25th anniversary edition will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 19th, 2016.