Film review: The Sapphires (4 out of 5 stars)

The Sapphires.
The Sapphires.

Heralded as a ‘feel-good’ movie, The Sapphires certainly delivers, with a heart-warming story, some great comedy and superb soul music.

It’s based on the unlikely but true story of four aboriginal women who travelled to entertain the US troops in Vietnam at the height of the war in 1968.

The quartet proved very popular, singing soul classics.

Their story was transformed into a major Australian stage musical.

Now, the real-life event has been adapted to create a film that is strongest when it steers clear of the events of the war itself.

Chris O’Dowd plays Dave, who spots the four women during a talent contest and, as their manager, helps them get to Vietnam.

O’Dowd’s character has all the best lines and he makes full use of them in a great performance.

The four women are very good as essentially foils to O’Dowd’s character.

The other major player in the movie, though, is the excellent soul music which is played throughout the movie, either sung by the actors themselves (very competently) or on the soundtrack.

The film does try to face up to some touchy subjects that existed in the 60s, with racism at the forefront.

However, the strongest parts of the film are the music and the interaction with O’Dowd and the women.

Even the Vietnam ‘battle scenes’ don’t really work.

There is a visual tribute paid to the original Australian women at the end.

But the overriding memory of the movie is some great one-liners from O’Dowd.

It’s a great family movie that actually will make you feel happy and send you off with at least one of the superb songs in your head.

Film details: The Sapphires (PG) 103ins.

Director: Wayne Blair.

Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy.

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne