The Commitments (1991)

“The Commitments” (1991)

IMDb

hard tenderness

Alan Parker is a generous filmmaker, in the sense that he allows himself to merge into the fabric of his themes, to allow the film to have its own life. That’s something i wouldn’t appreciate in Kar Wai or Welles, whose personal way to bend stories is the very reason why i go to their films. But Parker seems to have his biggest strength in understanding what the film needs, and allowing it to breath. That’s a great quality.

Here he tackles soul music appropriated by irish workers, and Dublin, as tokens for the irish spirit.

The mere quality and expression in the execution of the songs justifies the cult this film as grown around it since it came out. The music is not original, everything we hear are covers of songs for the masters of soul, but the interpretations are so engaging that you can hardly not be driven by them. It worked so well, that a band composed by several actors from this film, performing under the name of the band in the film still has a career today, still performs live gigs.

Among all the good things there is to say about the musical performances, i’ll mention the lead singer’s face. Andrew Strong’s voice delivers all the passion necessary for these songs to work. But his face, apparently so unappealing, forms a series of otherworld expressions, shapes, painful phrases coming out of some upper fantastic world. Parker understood it, and that’s why he frames it so often when he sings, in close-up. He engages us in ways hard to understand.

Of course than we have a funny plot that surrounds the musical moments, but that’s a mere support. The music is the main character, not the supporting bits to a central story.

Irish jokes and the black soul of America. That has proved a powerful mix. This film deserves credit, it’s a fine moment.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb

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