#REVIEW – “THE SAPPHIRES”
One of this year’s hidden treasures comes from Down Under and for those of you who didn’t get to see it at TIFF last September, here’s your chance at long last. The Sapphires is based on the true story of an Aboriginal-Australian Girl Group and their journey to sing in Vietnam for the American Troops during the War there in 1968.
Venturing to a Pub for an Open Mic Night, Sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy) realize that they are not welcome on the account of their race. Being asked to leave, Dave (Chris O’Dowd) who is the Host of the Night, joins forces with them after seeing their potential, taking on the role of their Manager. After stumbling across a lucrative opportunity for Entertainers in Saigon, the Sisters decide to ask their estranged Cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens) to join them. In their quest for success and greatness, we witness their own internal power struggles with Dave and Big Sister Gail constantly butting heads. Also, the four Girls reconcile some unresolved Family issues, while some of them experience love for the first time, all against the dangerous backdrop of a Country torn-apart by War.
Not knowing quite what to expect, The Sapphires hugely is a pleasant surprise marked by some very present performances from the charismatic and surprisingly-musical O’Dowd and Mailman. The Duo play off each other wonderfully in what develops to be an affecting Love Story. Much of the Film’s most engaging moments are the ones built around The Sapphires’ musical numbers and this would not be possible without the brilliant vocal talents of Australian Idol Jessica Mauboy, who with the least amount of acting experience in the Ensemble, plays well as the young and learning Julie. The Film’s four Leading Ladies are marvelous, completely believable as Family in nailing the essence of a strong, protective bond beneath the bickering and rivalry.
Although mostly comedic, Director Wayne Blair shifts the tone late in the Film gracefully, where for the first time we realize just how much danger Dave and The Sapphires are actually in, nailing all the right notes in what could easily have been passed-off as lighthearted fare on paper. Definitely worth a re-visit, if not a listen to that amazing Soundtrack!
eOne Films releases The Sapphires on April 5, 2013 in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Halifax.