Of all the films on this list The Sapphires sticks out like a sore thumb. An unashamed and genuine crowd-pleaser, the film has already been picked up for UK distribution by Harvey Weinstein who has proclaimed it ‘this year’s The Artist’. Talk is that it’s planned for a January release, much like The Artist, and I wouldn’t bet against it making a similar splash at the box office.
The story is based on true events surrounding an aboriginal girl group who, facing prejudice in their home country, find themselves touring Vietnam during the war entertaining the American troops. The story may rely heavily on cliché but the performances are uniformly winning and the laughs come regularly. The main source of the humour is Irish comedian Chris O’Dowd, who puts in a sensational performance as the band’s put upon manager.
Since last year’s comedy hit Bridesmaids, big things have been predicted of O’Dowd and if this film doesn’t elevate him to the comedy big league, the comedy big league needs to take a long hard look at itself. It’s rare that a performer manages to raise a laugh just by his general demeanour on screen but O’Dowd manages that here. He’s ably supported by the band members who have a great dynamic and also belt out a number of soul classics.
The grittier aspects of the political situation both in Vietnam and Australia may be glossed over too easily but there’s no denying the feel good nature of the story and performances and the photographic coda relating the events to the real characters can’t fail to warm the hardest hearts.
The Sapphires is rumoured to be released in January 2013.