“The Sapphires” is one of the most charming films to come out of Australia in a long time. It takes the term “feel good” and wraps you around its little finger, takes you for a beer, breaks into song, pays for dinner then buys you a puppy on the way home. It is that charming.
Based on the true story of four young, talented Aboriginal girls in the Sixties, “The Sapphires”, starring Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, newcomers Shari Sebens, Miranda Tapsell and Australian pop singer Jessica Mauboy, follows the all-girl group from Country and Western classics in an “unfriendly” outback pub to soul singing stars to the troops during the Vietnam War.
While the film is clunky in parts, and in the beginning you’re not quite sure if it’s going to stay within the boundaries of quirky yet amusing or cross over to embarrassingly cheesy and stereotypical, this worry is quickly settled as soon as Chris O’Dowd steps onto the screen. Starring as a down on his luck talent scout, and proving his career making role in “Bridesmaids” was not a one off, the Irishman shoulder dances his way into managing the all-girl group, a well-paying gig for the troops and one of the girls’ hearts.
The scenes in Vietnam are stunning, fun, and heartbreaking. It’s not all fun and games over there and when the battle field finally merges with the stage, it is beautifully captured by first time film director Wayne Blair. 1968 was the same year that Aboriginal Australians were given the vote for the first time, and reflective of its era, the film does not shy away from racial matters. Mauboy’s voice is exceptional, and Mailman has proven to be one of Australia’s best actresses with consistently great performances.
It is not a perfect film, but it’s fun, with great performances and music, and when the credits roll you will be moved. Most local Australian films do not last longer than two weeks in cinemas; I hope this film can break that drought.
Extras : (Unpreviewed)