The Sapphires (PG)
Dir: Wayne Blair
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With: Deborah Mailman, Chris O'Dowd
Runtime: 103 minutes
THE Commitments meets Platoon-lite might be one aptly bizarre description of Wayne Blair's comedy drama. Chris O'Dowd stars in the incredible but true story of a washed-up Irish musician who teams up with an Aboriginal girl group to tour Vietnam in 1968. The music is terrific, the singing ditto, and in the early stages at least there are some satisfyingly sharp edges to the comedy as we see the prejudice faced by the group at home. The general feel-good vibe is enough to make you forgive the creaky dialogue and the shoehorning in of the Vietnam tragedy every time the plot gets too Gruyere and requires a dose of realism.
People Like Us (12A)
Dir: Alex Kurtzman
With: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks
Runtime: 114 minutes
THE title makes it sound like a daytime soap opera and there is a certain amount of froth in this tale of a brother discovering that he has a sister after their rock star manager father dies. But when you have the likes of Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine playing the siblings in question, and Michelle Pfeiffer as his mother, what results is always going to be watchable. For a Disney family drama, some tough subjects are broached, such as abandonment and alcoholism. The laudable attempts at realism are ultimately overtaken by the usual mushiness, complete with moral messages, but for a while People Like Us dares to be a bit different and is all the better for it.
My Brother the Devil (15)
Dir: Sally El Hosaini
With: Fady Elsayed, James Floyd
Runtime: 111 minutes
THIS Hackney-set drama earned its director the best British newcomer award at the London Film Festival, adding to prizes won at Sundance and Berlin. Rashid and Mo are two British-Egyptian brothers who want the best for each other but disagree about what that might be. Rashid (James Floyd) has already gone down the wrong path and is determined his younger brother Mo (Fady Elsayed) will not follow. On the face of it, My Brother is a tale as old as Cain and Abel, but outstanding performances from Floyd and Elsayed, a strong story, and the way El Hosaini handles the sometimes harrowing material in a low-key way, mark her out as a director to watch.
Cineworld, Renfrew Street, Glasgow; DCA, Dundee; Showcase, Coatbridge and Paisley.