The Commitments

Director Alan Parker's story of a band of young Dubliners playing American '60s soul is fresh, well-executed and original.

Director Alan Parker’s story of a band of young Dubliners playing American ’60s soul is fresh, well-executed and original.

Set in the working-class north side of contemporary Dublin, where the music scene is rich and teeming, film, based on the novel by Roddy Doyle, tells the story of 21-year-old entrepreneur Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins), who envisions bringing soul music to Dublin. He pieces together a 10-piece outfit with real musical potential from among his raw or semi-talented contemporaries.

Diverse group includes a messianic 45-year-old trumpeter, Joey (Johnny Murphy) who claims to have toured with the American greats, a stout and vulgar lead singer (played by 16-year-old Andrew Strong) with a voice like a diesel engine, and three scrappy and fetching femme backup singers who blossom into singing leads. Constant friction among players means Jimmy spends much of his energy trying to hold the band together long enough to land at least one paying gig and pay off the rogue from whom he’s more or less stolen the equipment.

Parker and the casting directors initially auditioned more than 3,000 Dublin hopefuls. They wound up casting mostly musicians with no acting experience. Ensemble cast, which underwent five weeks of rehearsal, handles itself extremely well, particularly Arkins as Rabbitte and Murphy as the trumpeter.

Pictorially, the film is full of variety and unexpected pleasures, and the complex editing work by Gerry Hambling is marvelously accomplished.

1991: Nomination: Best Editing

The Commitments


  • Production: Beacon/First Film/Dirty Hands. Director Alan Parker; Producer Roger Randall-Cutler, Lynda Myles; Screenplay Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Roddy Doyle; Camera Gale Tattersall; Editor Gerry Hambling; Music G. Mark Roswell (sup.), Paul Bushnell (arr.);; Art Director Brian Morris
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 116 MIN.
  • With: Robert Arkins Michael Aherne Angeline Ball Maria Doyle Johnny Murphy Andrew Strong