The Sapphires (PG, 103 mins) Musical/Comedy/Romance/Action Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Tory Kittles Director: Wayne Blair Released: Wednesday November 7
Based on Tony Briggs’s 2004 stage play, The Sapphires is a crowd-pleasing, feel-good comedy about four sisters who discovered their voices while entertaining troops in Vietnam.
Director Wayne Blair applies a light touch to some potentially thorny subject matter - the enduring pain of a stolen generation of Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their parents, the devastation of the war on the indigenous population – but like the sibling’s songbook, his film remains upbeat.
Twenty-three year-old singer Jessica Mauboy, a runner-up on the Australian version of The X Factor, is luminous in her big screen debut, delivering a strong performance as well as the powerhouse vocals.
She swings soulfully through a soundtrack that includes What A Man, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).
The Sapphires sings to a similar tune as The Commitments, albeit with sequins, swinging hips and bone-dry Antipodean humour.
O’Dowd gleefully pickpockets many of the best lines and he shares wonderful screen chemistry with Mailman, playing the mother hen, who will do anything to protect her sisters from harm.
n Swearing, No Sex, Violence n Rating: 7/10