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sapphires no. 1“THE SAPPHIRES” My rating: B (Opens April 5 )

103 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Even with its flaws “The Sapphires” is a charmer. Heck, the flaws even make it more loveable.

This Down Under comedy from Aussie TV director Wayne Blair is based on real events: In 1968 a quartet of aboriginal women went on tour in Vietnam performing soul music for American troops .

“The Sapphires” (that’s the name they gave themselves) isn’t a terribly polished effort…and that’s a good thing. There’s a slightly ragged, hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show quality to the proceedings. Most of the performances are low-keyed and unforced – borderline nonprofessional, in fact – but that only makes the experience more realistic.

And if the filmmakers display an occasionally heavy hand in serving up some social issues, at least the movie has more on its mind than just  chucking us under the chin.

Best of all, at the center as the group’s hustling manager  is Irish import Chris O’Dowd, a master of drollery who steals his every scene.

Even in a cast heavy with comedy talent, O’Dowd stood out in 2011’s “Bridesmaids” (he was the funny/sweet and wholly original state trooper who stalked Kristen Wiig’s character). In “The Sapphires” he cements the deal. 

As Dave Lovelace, a pop music fanatic and all-around reprobate, he’s a slacker before there was a name for them, a deep pool of generally useless musical trivia, and an earnest romantic when the right woman comes along.

He does all this without even trying.

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