A gem of a flick
IT is all too easy for a homegrown, unashamedly feelgood affair like The Sapphires to be damned with faint praise.
Especially in what has been a decidedly feel- bad year for the Australian film industry in general.
However, what The Sapphires does well – blending stirring music interludes with genial comedy and a touch of drama – it does very well indeed.
A crowdpleaser that hits every audience demographic with effortless efficiency is not to be underestimated.
Local viewers of all shapes, sizes and persuasions are bound to have a lot of fun in the company of The Sapphires in the months to come.
There has been a boom on the moderately- budgeted production since it was snapped up by a major American studio on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival.
It is not hard to see why Hollywood took an instant shine to The Sapphires.
The movie takes a quintessentially Australian tale – inspired by the real- life exploits of a little- known Aboriginal girl group of the 1960s – and tells it in an irresistibly charming way sure to resonate far beyond these shores.
And it will be well away from our own terra firma that much of The Sapphires is destined to take place.
The McCrae sisters, Gail ( Deborah Mailman), Cynthia ( Miranda Tapsell) and Julie ( Jessica Mauboy) grew up on a quiet mission settlement thinking country and western music was where everything was at. Then they have a chance meeting with a boozy Irish music impresario, improbably named Dave Lovelace ( Chris O’Dowd).
An acolyte of soul music in its purest form, Dave removes every last trace of Nashville from the girls’ creaky repertoire, and applies a major Motown makeover.
With the recruiting of a fourth member from the Mccrae stable, estranged cousin Kay ( Shari Sebbens), the shimmering, shimmying Sapphires are an instant song- and- dance sensation.
In a flash, the girls find themselves spirited from the banks of the Murray River to the killing fields of Vietnam at the height of the war.
It must be said that The Sapphires is more than a little clunky in parts.
Aside from the assured comedy smarts of O’dowd and Mailman, performances are quite uneven.
Many characters are underdeveloped to the point of stereotype.
However, all shortcomings are invariably forgiven whenever the hyper-talented Mauboy gets near a microphone, and the film’s winning selection of soul standards and original tunes fire up.
GOING PLACES: Dave Lovelace ( Chris O’Dowd) and Gail ( Deborah Mailman).