Synopsis: 1968 was the year that changed the world. And for four young Aboriginal sisters from a remote mission this is the year that would change their lives forever. Around the globe, there was protest and revolution in the streets. Indigenous Australians finally secured the right to vote. There were drugs and the shock of a brutal assassination. And there was Vietnam. The sisters, Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Kay (Shari Sebbens) are discovered by Dave (Chris O’Dowd), a talent scout with a kind heart, very little rhythm but a great knowledge of soul music. Billed as Australia’s answer to ‘The Supremes’, Dave secures the sisters their first true gig, and flies them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops. Based on a true story, The Sapphires is a triumphant celebration of youthful emotion, family and music.
Release Date: March 22, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Musical, Comedy
The year is 1968 and the world is in turmoil with Vietnam, assassinations, and political unrest in many countries. The Sapphires takes the viewer on a journey to Australia, to see the state of life for the Aboriginal’s during this time; the racism, the Stolen Generation pain and aftermath, and the unbreakable bond that is family. In a country where you do not have the same rights as those who came to live there after you there are a number of stories that can be told about your people’s struggle. With The Sapphires, Director Wayne Blair constructs a magical story about fulfilling your dreams, overcoming obstacles, and hope. It is without a doubt one of the most uplifting movies you will see, and it also happens to be a fun-filled musical as well.
Based on a true story, the sisters (and one cousin) Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Kay (Shari Sebbens) find singing a daily staple in their life, having done so since they were children. The eldest, Gail, is more than happy with her current life–she is the tough one, the mother-hen so to speak. But young Julie has big dreams that do not include staying home and tending to her son the rest of her life. She wants to be a star, and her dream becomes a possibility when an ad in the local newspaper is seeking musical acts to perform for the troops in Vietnam. It is also kismet that the girls meet Dave Lovelace, a drunkard by choice and also a talent scout who is in desperate need of money–the job pays $30/week–and a new path in life. The audition goes well, after they deal with some family issues involving Kay, one of the stolen generation, and the usual uncertainty that comes from a mother and father allowing their children to go to a country riddled with death, pain, and danger. It all sounds quite dramatic, and it is when you dig deep, but The Sapphires is written by Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson, and executed by director Wayne Blair, with such positive panache and happiness over what is happening to these girls that you do not have the opportunity to dwell on the negative possibilities. Instead you rejoice in their success, revel in the adventure that awaits them, and laugh at every possible turn because all of their personalities mixed together make for great entertainment.
The Sapphires embodies the emotional beauty of music mixed with the terror of war and racism. It is a magnificent achievement in filmmaking as the heaviness of what it represents is offset perfectly with lightheartedness and the ever popular feeling of hope. The Sapphires is that rare movie that is overtly simple, but leaves you feeling a wealth of emotions. The most important being that of happiness.
Let’s hear it for the musical! Taking a step away from genre conventions of the musical, where the musical numbers influence the plot and vice-versa, The Sapphires musical interludes are purely part of the show, breaking away from the plot itself for the most part to simply deliver a good old-fashioned fun time at the movies with music. Covering classics such as “What A Man,” “I’ll Take You There,” and “I Can’t Help Myself,” The Sapphires uses the best of the best music from the era and the past and the girls are a joy to watch perform. They have charisma, a strong presence, and the happiness that rolls off of them is infectious. The Sapphires gets it right with music, its fun and exciting and exhilarating to sing and dance along with. Watching the girls perform in The Sapphires is reason enough to watch it, the rest of the film makes it a must-see.
If you’re not familiar with Chris O’Dowd by now, you will surely want to see more of him after watching his turn as Dave Lovelace in The Sapphires. This is something easily done as O’Dowd has played numerous comedic roles over the years, including parts in This Is 40, Bridesmaids, and Friends With Kids, to name but a few. In The Sapphires his initial introduction to the viewer shows him sleeping in his less-than-stellar car without any pants on in a parking lot. In one of his first lines he barks out “sweet tits.” This is all done of course drunk as can be while also suffering a hangover. Lovelace is a sad case, having never made it in the music business he so adores–but then again he loves soul music, a foreign conception in these here parts of Australia. Lovelace adds the needed comedic drawl to The Sapphires that does not come from inter-familial arguments and teasing amongst the sisters. He is without a doubt imperative to the story, the plot, and the overall success of achieving laughter in The Sapphires. His sarcastic banter filled love story with the eldest Sapphire, Gale (Deborah Mailman), is not only sweet but hilarious in its execution between the two actors.
While The Sapphires is not a comedy by genre definition it is full of comedic moments and smartly written dialogue. Aside from Chris O’Dowd’s character the comedy comes in a variety of other places; including between the sisters, the romances, and the staged progression of turning the girls into the stage act that is “The Sapphires.” The movie could have easily gone for a more dramatic musical tone, and it would have succeeded but not as well as it has by infusing comedy instead. Not only does The Sapphires make you feel, it also makes you laugh even during the most intense and emotional parts.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Wayne Blair
- Screenwriter(s): Tony BriggsKeith Thompson
- Cast: Chris O’Dowd (Dave Lovelace)Deborah Mailman (Gail)Jessica Mauboy (Julie) Shari Sebbens (Kay)Miranda Tapsell (Cynthia)Tory Kittles (Robby)
- Editor(s): Dany Cooper
- Cinematographer: Warwick Thornton
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Cezary Skubiszewski
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA