The Sapphires can't be faulted for its energy, offering up a series of catchy soul beats and lively stage performances and is ultimately a fun and pleasant experience. Despite uneven pacing and oversimplification of some serious national issues - racism towards Indigenous Australians and the stolen generation - not to mention the grittier aspects of Vietnam struggle, viewers will recognise that it is more interested in being a charming underdog story, producing laughs and lighting up the screen with renditions of soul favourites, than it is about detailing such dramatic issues. To an extent, this is fine.
It is the vibrant song-and-dance numbers, led by the very talented Jessica Mauboy, and the stellar performances from the always reliable Deborah Mailman and the charismatic and roguish Chris O'Dowd, that give this film the lift it needs and helps one forgive a lot of the clunky scenes. Mailman and O'Dowd have fantastic chemistry, which transformed their romance into a genuinely affecting one. O'Dowd, almost single-handedly, keeps the film entertaining and gives every sequence a lift with his presence. His doofus-like charm, his natural spontaneity and improvisation and perfect comic timing is head and shoulders above everything else in the film.
The uplifting finale is a good one, and it is one of the more memorable set pieces, and I left the film with a big smile on my face. Ultimately, this is all the film needs to have to be a success. Viewers will come in droves to see The Sapphires and then tell their friends to see it. This is understandable. Despite the flaws, one can't deny that The Sapphires delivers on what it promises. It is a sweet, spirited, heartwarming tale and a celebration of the extraordinary story of these women. With a funky soundtrack, glowing cinematography (courtesy of Warwick Thornton, Samson and Delilah), and the scene-stealing O'Dowd, there is enough here to justify embracing the talent on display with a trip to the cinema.
My Rating: ★★★ (B-)