April 20, 2013

MOVIES: The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, 2012/US 2013)

(I've fallen behind on movie posts, but hope to get caught up this week on posting about what I've seen recently.)

The Sapphires is an Australian movie about four Aboriginal women -- three sisters and a cousin -- who get a job entertaining the American troops in Vietnam. Chris O'Dowd stars as their manager, who teaches them to sing soul music instead of the country they'd been doing.

The women are all appealing, and each is given just enough of a personality that we can distinguish one from another; Jessica Mauboy, as the lead singer of the group, delivers perfectly nice performances of Motown standards that are entertaining in precisely the same "half a step up from karaoke" way that American Idol can be. And O'Dowd works his charming Irish guy shtick -- it's a bit discouraging that it already feels like shtick, given that he hasn't really been around all that long -- with his usual gentle charm.

There are a few minor feints towards social conscience, with backstory about the horrific way that Australia treated Aborigines in the 20th century; rather clunky parallels are drawn to the American civil rights movement.

The Sapphires is almost never a surprising movie, nor is it a terribly amibitious one. It aims no higher than to be 90 minutes of amiable entertainment, and it achieves that goal quite nicely.

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