He is a hapless, feckless character possessing a penchant for both whiskey and sweet, sweet soul music.
He performs master of ceremonies duties at a very mundane local talent show and is grotesquely uninspired by what he does for a living.
One faithful day, three Aboriginal sisters, Gail, Cynthia and Julie, arrive to his establishment full of attitude and raw talent. Sadly, the crowd icily greets them and exhibit vibes laced with racial overtones and peppered with tension.
The sisters have beautiful voices, but to Lovelace's horror, they offer a country and western number, stinging and offending his soulful palate. He becomes the girls' manager, along with their cousin, Kay.
The group audition to perform for the troops in war-torn Vietnam, and secure this post by singing a version of the Jackson 5's ‘Who's Loving You’, so movingly and which such passion and conviction that it brings a tear to the eye.
In Vietnam they perform consistently around the country. Egos present themselves and diva-like behaviour ensue, as it is only Julie(Jessica Mauboy) being pursued by a music executive.
Lovelace's character evolves brilliantly as the plot progresses. He makes the transition perfectly and effortlessly from loveable rogue to hero. O'Dowd, whose comic timing is impeccable as always, adopts a more dramatic role in this film, showcasing impressive skill and diversity as an actor.
Each of the strong, beautiful women has journeys of self- discovery to embark on and past traumas to stagnate.
Lessons that authentic music comes from genuine emotional ache and hurt are received, and that expressing such anguish through music is very liberating and enhances the sincerity of an artist's performance.
Gail (Deborah Mailman) is the last of the group to learn this, and the fact that a true creative soul does not see skin colour and transcends creed, and that discrimination has no place in music, but that, instead, it is a great healer and that the art form ultimately unites people.
Real human suffering and affliction are the backbone of creativity and indeed of soul music, and it comes from, not only the soul, but the gut, entwined with personal sorrow and painful experiences. Soul music pioneer and legend Ray Charles' words echo this sentiment exquisitely "My music had roots from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil."
It is only when Gail genuinely comprehends these concepts can she take fuel from her personal turmoil, command the stage, and truly shine. The film is grounded by the harsh reality of the war in Vietnam, original,s obering footage of which is used, and the film climaxes on the tragic night that Martin Luther King was assassinated.
It is a beautiful, powerful film, with a killer soundtrack, including songs by some to the industry's greatest icons such as Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, The Staple Singers, James Brown and The Four Tops.
A person with little regard for music will also enjoy this film, as it tells a compelling, inspiring tale, which is based on a true story. If, like myself, you have a passionate regard for the omnipotent entity that is music, The Sapphires will get under your skin, set up camp and reside there.
A true triumph, a film of this calibre does not come around too often. It will be belting furiously into cinemas on November 7th.