Monday, April 1, 2013

The Sapphires

The Australian import "The Sapphires," about a singing girl group composed of fair-skinned Aborigines, is one of those cliché-infested "feel-good" movies that almost inevitably doesn't.
We get the domineering older sister who's been singing lead despite having a weaker voice than her more talented younger sister. We get the girl who can pass as white, which creates all the jealousies and name-calling you'd predict. We get the girl who gets slutty when she's had too much to drink. We get poor Chris O'Dowd as the has-been keyboardist who becomes the girls' makeshift manager (and the love interest of one). We get touring romances of every flavor. Anything that's happened to a girl group from "Satisfaction" to "Dreamgirls" happens to these cats; I kept waiting for someone in the theater to yell "Bingo!" And by setting their story to the backdrop of the Vietnam War - their first real gig is a USO tour - the filmmakers have created a mash-up that's ill-fitting at best and queasy at worst. (There's one actual battle scene, and it's as poorly shot and unrealistic as you'd expect.) The adorable O'Dowd can't do much wrong in my book, but even a few scenes of him in his skivvies can't save these costume-jewelry "Sapphires."

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