I must confess that this is my favorite movie of all time, and the music plays a large part of why I enjoy it so much. Don’t expect stellar acting in this movie unless you want to be let down–though make no mistake, the acting is certainly adequate. The key players in this movie were not chosen for their acting abilities, but rather for their musical talent. The people you see on stage in the movie are the same people who play the music you hear. (If you appreciate soul music, do not pass up the chance to purchase The Commitments Vol. I and Vol. II.) And what a talented assembly of musicians they brought together for this movie. Most astonishing is the lead vocals of prodigy Andrew Strong (playing lead singer Deco Cuffe) whom, at 16 years old at the time of filming, possesses “a voice that Bob Geldof would starve for.”
More than anything, this film is about hope. It is about the hopes and dreams of a handful of poor north side Dubliners striving to beat the odds and make something of themselves. The film follows the near-rise and eventual fall of a band that, on the verge of a record deal, could not bear to watch success interfere with their destiny to remain destitute.
But was destitution their destiny after all? “Success of the band was irrelevent,” the main protagonist and band manager is told moments after the band breaks up. “You raised their expectations of life–you lifted their horizons!” And indeed, the epilogue reveals that, even though the band itself was a failure, virtually every band member had acheived a greater level of personal acheivement than they had hoped for before they had joined the band.
This is a movie about the raw appeal of soul music; it is a movie about Dubliners; it is a movie about the economic conditions in general that grip Ireland; it is a movie about poor folks who endlessly toil in the vain hope that they can make ends meet. But more than anything, it is a movie about how hope alone can be the ultimate salvation of of those who have nothing else to look forward to.