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Review: O'Dowd charms in 'The Sapphires'

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm •  Published: March 20, 2013

The directorial debut of the Aussie actor Wayne Blair, the film is most concerned with the sisterhood of its singers. They're painted broadly but entertainingly: Gail, played forcefully and memorably by Mailman, is the proud eldest; Cynthia is the eager carouser; Julie has the soaring lead voice; and Julie is awakening to her ethnicity. They constantly vacillate between bickering and singing.

When the film moves to Vietnam, its less expert filmmaking and threadbare, inauthentic settings get harder to forgive. Many of the scenes, as the girls travel stage to stage, lack any sense of a war-torn country. Vietnam is less a battlefield than a menagerie of handsome, strapping soldiers for the girls to enjoy.

Familiar soul hits make up the soundtrack, in song-and-dance scenes and montages. The songs are undeniable crowd-pleasing classics, but they've countless times before been fodder for movie redemption, muting their effect here somewhat.

But even when "The Sapphires" is at its most unpolished and cheesiest, O'Dowd and the film's general warm spirit make it a tune hard to resist. Heart and humor, after all, aren't always so easy to find at the movies.

"The Sapphires," a Weinstein Co. release, is rated PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of war violence, some language, thematic elements and smoking. Running time: 99 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.


Motion Picture Association of America rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.