Plot summary (from the studio): The Sapphires is an inspirational tale set in the heady days of the late ‘60s about a quartet of young, talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission, discovered and guided by a kind-hearted, soul-loving manager. Plucked from obscurity, the four spirited women with powerhouse voices – called The Sapphires – are given the opportunity to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Catapulted onto the world stage as Australia’s answer to the Supremes, their journey of discovery offers them not only the chance to show off their musical skills, but find love and togetherness, experience loss and grow as women.
The Sapphires is an adaptation of the hugely successful Australian stage musical of the same name, and is inspired by the remarkable true story of writer Tony Briggs’ mother and three aunts. The four Sapphires are joyfully played by AFI Award winner Deborah Mailman, Australian pop sensation Jessica Mauboy and newcomers Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens. Bridesmaids actor Chris O’Dowd delivers a tour de force comic performance as their manager, that is at once incredibly funny, likeable and genuine. Receiving a ten minute standing ovation at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, The Sapphires is a crowd-pleasing combination of comedy, heart and romance and an unbeatable soul music soundtrack, set against the racial and social upheaval of the late 1960s. A jewel-bright charmer and an Australian classic, The Sapphires is not to be missed.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Yeah, I’m a sap, but I teared up when Gail read Dave’s proposal letter — after he had been shot. Her reaction was heartbreaking (since she still didn’t know what happened to him) and made it clear that she thought her chance at happiness was gone. I’m so glad he survived.
- I almost always like films based on true stories because the story naturally has to have something to it to warrant being translated to film. I think The Sapphires fit this bill, even though I viewed it more in terms of a feel-good semi-success story than the political triumph of a group of oppressed Aborigines.
- I didn’t really connect with any of the five main characters. None of them were sufficiently developed, and none of them really stood out — aside from Gail and Dave (and that was just because of the focus on their love story).
- I guess I just don’t understand enough about the political situation surrounding the Aborigines in Australia, because that whole angle went right over my head. I didn’t even get why the four girls were called “black”, as they certainly didn’t look black to me (especially the cousin). I would have benefited from a scene or two explaining the oppression — and perhaps other viewers would have as well. A few sentences on a title card didn’t cut it.
- Let’s face it, the script (and production) were fairly amateurish. I know this wasn’t a Hollywood film backed by megabucks, but some of the stuff that made it to the screen was seriously cringe-worthy.
- In the end, The Sapphires came off as Dreamgirls without the glitz or glamour. Not a fair comparison, perhaps, but one that nagged at me the entire time I was watching.
I was drawn to The Sapphires by its recent status as the iTunes $.99 rental of the week, as well as its amazing 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Because of such a high rating, I was expecting an astounding, emotionally-charged ride — but that didn’t happen here. My gut tells me to give this 2 stars out of 5, but I’ll bump it up to 3 stars because it’s (based on) a true story.