Friday, November 19, 2010
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES: HALL OF FAME #007: THE COMMITMENTS (1991)
Directed By: Alan Parker
Written By: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais & Roddy Doyle
Based On The Book By: Roddy Doyle
Cinematography By: Gale Tattersall
Editor: Gerry Hambling
Cast: Robert Arkins, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Andrea Corr, Colm Meany, Johnny Murphy, Glenn Hansard, Andrew Strong, Angeline Ball
A rags to riches story with success and popularity thrown in.
Each character is 3 dimensional and as characters. You don’t get confused as to who they are and each of them has a beginning and a end in the film.
It is easy to write this film off as blue eyed soul or another tale of whites propaganding black soul music for there own success. Really the group is like a cover group for Motown hits. Here the musicians as being irish in England find a spiritual connection to the soul artists as they are downtrodden, poor and looked down upon so they feel the music and can identify with the themes.
It’s a feel good film that time to time doses you with a bit of reality.
None of the main cast really went onto big time stardom in music or films except Glen Hansard of the band Swell Season and who starred in the film ONCE. Though that makes it a loss for them in life, it’s a gain because there characters feel more truthful and can always exist the way you remember them in the film. It makes you feel like you can always go back and watch. Which is funny considering Director Alan Parker wanted Van Morrison to play one of the roles.
It’s a film that took me by surprise. I ended up watching it on a lark one night and watched it as part of a double feature on a Friday night at home. I had heard all of the praise when this film was first released in theaters, But I had no interest as I was not as open minded to such films. At the time I was more about the Big Box-Office films. The film looked boring and slow to me. I decided to give it a chance. It ended up being The best double feature ever as the other film was TO SIR WITH LOVE (Which will one day be written up in the Hall Of Fame itself). I still love both of these films to this day. This originally was looking like a underdog contender but I laughed, cried and really got into it. It held it’s own against the other film. It’s one of the films like all of my hall of fame movies which I can watch anytime and anywhere. Even though I know what happens. I never get bored and can allow myself to try and discover the film all over again like the first time I watched it.
Shockingly as much as I love this film to this very day I have never bought or owned the soundtrack. I guess I like to experience the music only when watching the film for posterity not cheapen it by listening to the soundtrack all the time and then watch the movie and be moved by the songs.
It’s a film that while watching again. I won’t fast forward through even though it’s over 2 hours long. Though it’s not as gritty as a kitchen sink drama. It has the elements of one. Working class youths who don’t have much to look forward to in there early 20’s and almost all defeated by uncertainty. No grand future then comes the opportunity to do something with this band. Which gives them all a glimmer of hope but as with success comes greed and ego. Which rears it’s ugly head and costs them. The group of course is filled with quirks.
I liked the lead character Robert Arkins who is there manager he shows charisma as a man for which everything is business. No matter what he keeps his eye on the prize and always comes off as likeable.
This film was the GLEE of it’s time a surprise hit that spawned the group to tour in real life worldwide. It also brings to mind one of director Alan Parker’s earlier successes FAME. As here we see the auditions and forming of the band the success and peril. Which includes a lot of personal drama, Just like the film FAME. Mr.Parker also doesn’t skip on referencing his other films in this film Such as BIRDY and MISSISSIPI BURNING. He has also said this was one of the most easygoing experiences making a film ever in his long career. He once considered making a sequel where the characters went on a comeback tour and reunite in New York but the film sadly never came to fruition.
The ending makes the film feel more real. That most end up where they began some a little wiser but some don’t end up learning a thing but all have the memories of that success that they shared and can tell stories about it for years to come.