The Commitments is an Irish film directed by Alan Parker in 1991. It tells the story of a handful of penniless Irish people who decide to form a soul band together to set fire to Dublin’s clubs at night… But the challenge is not without pitfalls!

Summary of the Film

Soul Music to get out of Dublin’s slums

1980, in the working-class districts of Dublin. While the city is hit by unemployment, Jimmy Rabite fights to make known his soul music band, composed of a guitarist and a bassist: Outspan Foster and Derek Scully. Until then, the latter had been playing mostly at weddings, singing soul music tunes, not always to the taste of the Dubliners.

Jimmy soon gets tired of struggling, and decides to recruit new members for the band, so he organizes a casting session at his place. A lot of people showed up, showing his talent (or lack of it), playing all styles, whether it’s trad, punk, rock, or pop music…

Everything can be interpreted, from the greatest songs to the worst horrors, and this in any room, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the garage…

Little by little, Jimmy Rabite will compose his band, form it, and negotiate gigs in local clubs… But the eternal question remains: will their soul music seduce the crowds?

Our Opinion

An all-music film about a multi-cultural Ireland

Alan Parker’s film can sometimes seem light-hearted… It is nevertheless entertaining and takes a critical look at an Ireland of the 80s exhausted by unemployment and poverty. It is against the backdrop of a working-class district in Dublin that Alan Parker manages to paint a rather caustic portrait of the Irish island, which is both multi-cultural and yet also entangled in its traditions.

Who would have thought that a soul band could make so much noise when the general trend seemed to be more towards traditional music? By forming a band of junk and junk, the character Jimmy Rabite seems to rekindle hope in the heads of its members.

Although they live in poor neighborhoods (assimilated to ghettos), one quickly feels the analogy between the poor neighborhoods of Brooklyn in New York, and their pleasure to take refuge in music. At times, these Irish even assimilate themselves to blacks, despised by the rest of Europe, which is less affected by poverty than Ireland. Proof of this is this quote from the film:

“You guys don’t understand! The Irish are the blacks of Europe! In Dublin we’re the black people of Ireland and the black people in the northern districts are the black people of Dublin!

Music thus seems to deliver them from this bitter situation, where unemployment and contempt painfully co-exist in the most difficult neighbourhoods. A very nice attempt by Alan Parker, who brilliantly demonstrates the incredible power of music on men…