Ah Chris O’Dowd, I don’t know if it is because he is a fellow Irish man, or if it’s his cheeky lopsided grin or it could be his witty and whimsical charm, but whenever I sit down to watch something he is in, I am willing it to be good, in fact I am willing it to be superb. And, after the phenomenal success he has had with Bridesmaids and Moone Boy, to name but a few recent projects, I don’t know why I worry. O’Dowd has proved himself more than capable as leading man, who can win the hearts of the ladies and the laughter of the men folk and vice versa – that’s the tricky part.
In his latest film The Sapphires he’s no different. First of all let me say something, I am a fan of musicals. I think it only fair that I let you know that from the off. Whether it is the all singing and dancing razzmatazz of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! or the tension filled, heart rendering masterpiece that is Les Misérables, you can pretty much be sure if it's a musical it has already received 1 star from me just for that fact.
This movie kicks off in an outback Australian town in the mid-1960s where Aboriginal sisters, Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia, (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy), enter a talent competition at a local pub. While they are far above any of the other acts playing in the tatty watering hole, the racist judges don't award them a prize. However the trio catch the eye of the chilled-out, alcoholic, Irish MC named Dave, (Chris O’Dowd), who reckons if they switch their singing style from country to soul they could have something really special. After some consternation – and a name change - he agrees to manage the sisters and they are soon on their way, along with their cousin Kay, (Shari Stebbens), who was a victim of the Stolen Generation and has been living in Melbourne, off to the war zone.
The Sapphires is based on Tony Briggs' stage play of the same name, and it translates really well to the big screen, ticking all the boxes of a decent musical along the way. The script is, for the most part, sassy, smart, bright and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. It doesn’t dwell too much on some of its more serious aspects like racism and the politics behind the war, but Blair has managed to patch quite well over the areas you might want a little bit more from the story.
In terms of the music, the four girls are terrific whether they are performing big, bold musical numbers on the stage or more stripped back songs as part of the story. They really are a delight to listen to. Chris O'Dowd even gives a good stab at singing - I was suprised - yet again, sorry Chris - at the powerful pipes he's got.
So, if it’s a feel-good, light-hearted, humorous movie you’re in the mood for, than this is definitely worth a watch – you’ll be sure to leave the cinema with a little more soul, in your eh, well soul.