The Sapphires

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:PG
  • Director:Wayne Blair
  • Cast:Eka Darville, Georgina Haig, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Chris O'Dowd, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell
  • Release Date:August 09, 2012
  • Distributor:Hopscotch
  • Running time:99 minutes
  • Film Worth:$17.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…infectious, celebratory storytelling...

review image e3bef62e3641a40723b3.jpg

There's a moment early in The Sapphires when sisters, Gail and Cynthia, try to hitch a lift. When a ride cruises right past them, Gail laments, "It's because we're black!" to which her sassy sister replies, "No, stupid, it's because you're ugly." This scene sets the upbeat and often very funny tone for Wayne Blair's debut feature, which has been retooled for the big screen from Tony Briggs' hit stage play about an all-Aboriginal female soul group in 1968.

Showing off their musical chops at the local pub's talent quest, Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), are shunned by the bigoted townsfolk, but make an impression on the pub's MC, a scruffy, boozy but boyishly charming Irish musician named Dave (Bridesmaids' Chris O'Dowd, who proves a dynamite casting coup). When youngest sister, Julie (Jessica Mauboy), rocks up with an ad in hand calling for performers to entertain the troops in Vietnam, Dave agrees to manage the girls. Recruiting their long-estranged cousin, Kay (Shari Sebbens), they soon find themselves jetting overseas. 

Just like the soul classics that tear up the stage, this is infectious, celebratory storytelling packed with moments of feel-good charm. Playing out in the beautiful, vibrant world created by Warwick Thornton's cinematography, there's a surprising but welcome looseness to the film, especially when the story hits Vietnam and chugs along to a road trip feel. The characters occasionally feel a little broadly sketched, but the actresses layer their performances with spunk, heart and a little bit of hurt. The politics of the time are largely revealed via the relationship between Gail and Kay, which boils up and bursts in a scarring, heartbreaking moment. Blair doesn't shy away from history's tougher notes, but he's the deft type of filmmaker who trumps a story over a message. And rest assured, this is one irresistible story.

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