The Sapphires movie poster
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The Sapphires
The Sapphires movie poster

The Sapphires Movie Review

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The Sapphires is a feel-good drama-comedy about an Aboriginal quartet who travel to Vietnam to sing and sex it up for American soldiers under the tutelage of an Irish drifter. If that sounds hokey, it sort of is, but it's also based on a true story and written by one of the singer's son, even though everyone's names have been changed and the main character has been fabricated so a white person can be in the lead.

Sort of ironic given that the movie is largely about racism. Also strange that the writer would develop something so personal and yet make it so extremely inaccurate.

But... history be damned. The Sapphires is a fun and entertaining movie and Chris O'Dowd delivers the best performance of his career as the fictional white dude. Sometimes, often, fiction is better than fact.

The Sapphires, an Australian film directed by Wayne Blair, shifts seamlessly between drama, comedy and its commentary on racism. The movie opts for a light tone, even when bombs and gunfire are raining down around the characters. There are serious moments, but The Sapphires never comes off as heavyhanded - which is a good and bad thing.

On the positive side, the movie is easy and enjoyable to watch. On the other hand, it lacks weight; the conflict feels forced at times - the tension between Gail (Deborah Mailman) and her sister Kay (Shari Sebbens) comes out of nowhere and is underdeveloped - and the semi-romantic relationship between Dave (O'Dowd) and Gail doesn't entirely work.

Still, The Sapphires is a legitimately overlooked film that deserves a larger audience than it has in the United States (it earned only $2.5 million in theaters). Feel-good and accessible, The Sapphires is now on Blu-ray and DVD and is unlikely to disappoint.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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