PIFF's biggest crowd-pleaser will likely be this hugely entertaining comedy-drama -- adapted from Tony Briggs' play and loosely based on the true story of Briggs' Aboriginal relatives (fictionalized here by Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell) who form a soul-singing girl group and leave behind racist 1960s Australia to perform for American troops in Vietnam.
The movie unfolds in pretty much the exact uplifting manner you'd expect, but its real pleasures lie in its terrific '60s pop-soul soundtrack and especially in its frequently funny performances. Chris O'Dowd ("Bridesmaids," "The IT Crowd") is a cannonade of self-deprecating zingers as the group's drunken manager, and his bickering chemistry with the group's two-fisted eldest sibling (Mailman) is such that I can happily imagine a future in which Mailman gets to kill it in many more comedies. When "The Sapphires" gets a wider release later this year, I'll be shocked if it isn't a fairly huge art-house hit.
B-plus; Australia; 99 minutes [ official PIFF listing ]
- 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, Whitsell
- 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, Cinemagic
'The Sapphires' (The Oregonian, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013)