Wham bam thank you, Vietnam!
BASED on Tony Briggs's 2004 stage play, The Sapphires is a crowd-pleasing, feel-good comedy about four sisters who discovered their voices while entertaining troops in Vietnam.
Director Wayne Blair applies a light touch to potentially thorny subject matter – the enduring pain of a stolen generation of Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their parents, the devastation of the war on the indigenous population – but, like the sibling's songbook, his film remains upbeat.
Singer Jessica Mauboy, 23, a runner-up on the Australian version of The X Factor, is luminous in her big screen debut, delivering a strong performance as well as the powerhouse vocals. She swings soulfully through a soundtrack of soul hits.
Blair's film opens in 1958 with young girls running excitedly to an Aboriginal mission, where their joyful singing is cut short by the arrival of the authorities.
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Several girls are taken away, to be assimilated into white families.
Ten years later, booze-sodden Irish talent scout Dave (Chris O'Dowd) discovers Gail McCrae (Deborah Mailman) and her sisters Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy) singing in a pub talent contest.
Ambitious Julie persuades Dave to put them forward for auditions to entertain the troops behind enemy lines.
The Sapphires sings to a similar tune as The Commitments, albeit with sequins, swinging hips and bone-dry Antipodean humour.
O'Dowd gleefully pickpockets many of the best lines and he shares wonderful screen chemistry with Mailman. G'day Vietnam!