The Commitments at the Sheffield Lyceum on Saturday was, as I said in the title, Feckin’ Brilliant!
It’s a great show: funny and fast moving, full of eccentric characters and fantastic music. The plot is fairly simple, a group of working class north Dubliners put together a band to bring Soul to ‘the people’, but the witty interplay between the characters is a complete joy. It’s laugh out loud funny and the end is a standing ,clapping, dancing sing-along of a good time.
When Roddy Doyle’s original book came out in 1987 it was a big hit. I read it not long after and thought it was completely amazing. What struck me after watching the show is that both the musical and the film have a fantastic soundtrack which forms the foundation of the story, and of course the book does as well, it’s just that you can’t actually hear it. Which to me shows how well written the novel is.
I think I need to read it again.
This review has been a long time coming. I actually watched the film on a plane on the way to Florida, this was back in March. So why am I talking about it now?
The thing is, it absolutely blew me away. When it ended I thought “That is just the best film ever!”. I raved about it to my wife so much that 2 weeks later she watched it on the way back. She didn’t like it though, so why did I think it was so great?
Well, there’s the obvious stuff. All the main characters are weirdly compulsive and pull you into the story, and they are brilliantly acted. It’s beautifully filmed, with that famously long continuous introductory shot. The unrelenting, hypnotic jazz percussion sound track. I think watching it on a plane helped as well. It’s an intense movie and sitting just inches from the screen and wearing headphones really helps you to get sucked right in.
Then there’s Raymond Carver.
The film revolves around the main character’s attempt to stage a Broadway play. He’s a Hollywood actor, the star of a superhero franchise (the Birdman of the title), and this is his attempt to be a ‘real’ actor. The play is his own adaptation of “What we talk about when we talk about love”, a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver, who, I’m ashamed to say, I’d never heard of. The play is central to the film, the characters and their dialogue, resonating off the stage and into the actors lives.
The words of Raymond Carver hit me like a smack in the face with the complete works of William Shakespeare. The first thing I did when we got to our apartment in Orlando was to download the book and start reading. I read two of the short stories until the fact that I’d been up for nineteen hours straight finally forced me to bed. I had two thoughts before I slept: “Wow!” and “I should write a short story”.
So in a way the ultimate result of me watching the film was the short story that I just blogged about. Which is why I’m writing about it now.