Jimmy Rabbitte, an unemployed Dublin boy, decides to put together a soul band made up entirely of the Irish working class.Jimmy Rabbitte, an unemployed Dublin boy, decides to put together a soul band made up entirely of the Irish working class.Jimmy Rabbitte, an unemployed Dublin boy, decides to put together a soul band made up entirely of the Irish working class.
On paper, it sounds like a failure - a cast comprising almost entirely of untrained and untested performers, set in working class Dublin, based on the novella by Roddy Doyle. By God, does it defy expectations.
Jimmy Rabbitte is a working class Dublin lad who's been collecting unemployment benefits for two years. But he dreams of bigger things, namely making it big in the music industry. He sets out to form a soul band, and assembles a motley crew of musicians and singers, most of whom don't know each other and many of whom can't stand each other.
The look of the film is gritty and realistic - nothing is glossed over. North Dublin is presented in all it's glory. The home lives of the band members are depicted warts and all - their private lives set the scene for the inevitable personality clashes that are almost as explosive as the music. In the mix is the unique character of the Irish people - at one point Jimmy enters a tenement block and, as he waits for the lift, looks over to see a boy with a horse. "You aren't taking that in the lift, are you?" he asks. "I have to," the boy replies. "The stairs would kill him."
The real star of the show is the music - this film spawned two hugely successful soundtrack albums. The band members were cast partly due to their musical ability, and the results are superlative. The stand out is Andrew Strong as Deco - would you believe this kid was only 16 when the film was made? His amazing voice belies his tender years, and suggests that he's been smoking a packet a day since the age of about four. At the end of the day with is a fine ensemble piece, much like the band. The acting may be a little wonky at times, but the hysterical dialogue makes up for that.
Most remarkably, this is a feel good film that does not rely on any of the conventional feel good plot devices. There are no group hugs, no plot conveniences, no trite happy endings. Just a shrewdly observed and wittily captured human story about people who dream of making it out of their dreary world. And isn't that something we can all relate to?
- Jul 6, 2004