Film Release: The Sapphires

DESPITE the thorny issues at the heart of the story – Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their parents and horrors of the Vietnam war – The Sapphires emerges as a feel-good movie with a great soundtrack.

It doesn’t diminish the serious issues, but uses the true story of four Aboriginal girls forming a group to sing for the troops behind enemy lines to inspire and entertain. Chris O’Dowd stars as a down-at-heel Irish talent scout Dave who first encounters the singing sisters (Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell and Australian X Factor finalist Jessica Mauboy) in a pub’s talent contest. They’re good but the bigoted audience dismiss their talent out of hand. When Dave stands up for them, he gets the sack. With nothing to lose he agrees to help them audition to entertain the troops in Vietnam.

But he insists on changes. He switch the leader singer with one of the backing singers, recruits their estranged cousin (Shari Sebbens) to the line-up and changes their name to The Sapphires. He also insists they ditch country songs in favour of soul music.

The script of this Australian film errs on the cheesy side, but the performances are lively and the songs blissfully soulful. O’Dowd adds another notch to his movie leading man bedpost while Mailman is sparky as the oldest of the sisters who won’t take any nonsense from anyone.

Steve Pratt

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