According to crusty Irish boozer Dave—played with impeccable comic charm by Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig’s cop boyfriend in Bridesmaids
—country-western and soul music are both rooted in loss. The difference, Dave says, is that while country-western stars whine about it, soul singers fight desperately for redemption. That exuberant sense of resilience takes center stage in first-time filmmaker Wayne Blair’s massively entertaining tale about an Australian Aboriginal girl band that travels to Vietnam to entertain American troops in 1968. Loosely based on a true story (Blair’s mother was a member of the original group), The Sapphires
butts up against serious issues, most prominently racial tension and the trauma of war. But between the spirited songs, big-hearted story line and hypersaturated cinematography, this is a film that unapologetically encourages finger-snapping rather than head-scratching—and bless its spangled heart for that.