In this Australian comedy set to a soul music soundtrack, four Aboriginal women in the 60s are discovered by a talent scout (Chris O’Dowd, Bridesmaids) and form a musical group that travels to Vietnam to perform for troops. Now Playing Nationwide.
A welcome Australian spin on a familiar tale, The Sapphires doesn't hold a lot of surprises, but it's nevertheless a winning combination of girl power uplift and late '60s nostalgia.
The film takes the time to establish its points of difference in its portrayal of the lives of the four (initially three) Aboriginal girls who will eventually make up the titular group. Some of the film's best moments come when they enter a local talent contest MCed by Dave, a drunken Irish import played by Chris O'Dowd.
The talent contest doesn't go their way, but Dave spots something special in the girls, and they convince him to manage their hastily assembled outfit. After recruiting estranged cousin Kay from the city, they successfully audition for the army and head off to Vietnam to perform for American troops.
At this point the film starts losing its uniqueness. It doesn't derail the movie, and audiences seem to be lapping it up, but very little occurs that you won't see coming a mile off.
The civil rights era touchstones lend some dramatic context, and an effort has been made to give each character their own storyline. The music cues are all pretty familiar, but undeniably enliven the proceedings.
The Sapphires is clearly designed to be a crowd-pleaser - it succeeds in that regard and it's fantastic that the film is making a mint at the antipodean box office. It's just a touch... predictable. But so are many good movies, and audiences aren't likely to be disappointed.