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Sapphires Shine Despite Their Rough Setting
THE SAPPHIRES (PG)
Musical/Comedy/Romance/Action. Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Tory Kittles. Director: Wayne Blair.
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.
The Sapphires sings to a similar tune as The Commitments, albeit with sequins, swinging hips and bone-dry Antipodean humour. Battle scenes, though brief, are well orchestrated despite obvious budget limitations and we genuinely fear for the characters when they are literally caught in the crossfire.
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.