The Sapphires (PG)

 

Based on a true story about four Aboriginal women whose sweet singing made them briefly famous in the 1960s, this musical-comical romp would very much like to fuse the raucous energy of The Commitments with the soul-searching of Dreamgirls.

Sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy), along with cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), snag the attention of musical impresario/chancer Dave Lovelace (Chris O'Dowd) while singing country and western in an outback bar.

With his nose for a profit, Dave changes their sound to soul, appoints himself manager and wins them a booking to play for American troops in Vietnam. Though never in movies have you seen a warzone as tame as this...

The drama is pretty limp, the character studies pretty broad, but the singing and choreography are first-rate, and whenever it threatens to sag O'Dowd's fond foolery is usually on hand to give it some crackle.

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