Monday, 8 May 2017

Blind Spot Series: The Commitments

Missed last month which means double this month, starting with the Irish classic, The Commitments; saviours of soul.

The Commitments is a film I have had in the back of mind and reminded myself to watch it sometime. No time like the present, especially when you have a Blind Spot list to make. I knew the song 'Mustang Sally' that is sung by the band before I saw the film and I've seen the trailer countless times. I remember walking past the Palace Theatre in London (its near a favourite shop of mine and right next to Soho) all the time when the musical was on and wondering what it was all about. Having seen the film, I really wish I had seen the stage show, even of the critics weren't so kind.

There are some films where I deem very British and quite possibley could go over some people's heads and I would agree that this is also the case with Scottish, Welsh and Irish films too. This is a very (delightfully so) Irish story about one man who brings together a group of talented musicians who light up the stage but tear apart the back stage.

Based on Roddy Doyle's 1987 novel of the same name about working class people in Dublin. Jimmy Rabbitte is music fanatic who is on the dole. After two musician friends ask for his help, he decides to create soul band. He gathers together an unlikely group who actaully are a huge hit in Dublin. But the group fighting gets worse as they become more successful and Jimmy tries to keep everyone together.

The group is made up of a quiet pianist who is studying to be a doctor, two guitarists who previously played at weddings, a saxaphonist who would rather play jazz, a weird older trumpet player who has played with all the greats, or so he says, bus conductor singer who has an amazing voice, three back up singers who all seem to be under the trumpet players spell and a drummer who would be better suited to punk band, BUT together they are amazing. It is a fantastic groups of, dare I say it, misfits who are as violent and short tempered as they are amazing musicians.

Jimmy is the glue that keeps them all together and the wheels that keeps them turning. His enthusiasm for the band and the music and his determination to bring sould to Dublin is what drives the film, as well as the great music. His moments alone talking into the mirror as if he being interviewed by Terry Wogan are brilliantly casual. When interutpted by his family he always tells them to 'Shut up, I'm being interviewed'.

Its not surprise that the film won four BAFTAs including best film, but the fact that the film made it across the pond and was nominated for Best Film Editing at the Oscars seems odd. For me, it feels like a homestead movie, a bit like how Trainspotting was for Scotland, but we all know who huge that got. What was interesting was that most of the cast were inexperienced and mainly brought in for their musical talents. Only the three back up singers seem to carry on acting, as well as singers, while the rest continued on with the music. The ending of the film (different from the novel slightly) has Jimmy relate the fates of each band member as they all went their separate ways, quite similiar to how the real cast went. It makes you wish they'd reunite for one night only, just one more time.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers.

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