The Sapphires movie poster. On The Road With Song
The Sapphires
Stars: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell
Director: Wayne Blair
Scriptwriters: Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson
Composer of Original Music: Czary Skubiszewski
Goalpost Pictures
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 103 minutes
The Sapphires is based on the true story of four young Aboriginal girls who have sung together since childhood.  The group is composed of sisters and cousins. The girls know they are good and want to get out of their place in Australian society to be "someone." Music will do it. What they need is a contest and a manager. Enter Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids) who steals the film and could be recognized at Oscar nomination time for his antics as a sleazy showman with the heart of gold.
The film begins with the girls trying to get to a music contest. Finally, they all arrive and Chris is the MC. To his surprise, the girls are good and before you can say "Vietnam," they have applied for a tour, gotten it, gotten reluctant permission from their parents, and are on their way.  The experiences of war are a shocking surprise as is the freedom encountered by four underage girls who have guys chasing them, drugs nearby, and people applauding their every move.  This is heady stuff and they try to stay true. Chris, on the other hand, is turning a new leaf, as he does battle with the leader of the girls group, Gail (Deborah Mailman) and the personalities of the other girls. No one trusts anyone and the breaking down of racial and social barriers concerns everyone here.
Also in the story, is another tale concerning the taking of light-skinned Aboriginal children away from their parents and raising them to be "white." Kay (played by Shari Sebbens) is one of these children and her coming back to her roots after years in white society is an eye-opener. For fans of the movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence, the Aboriginal theme of going back is here, too.
Music is right out of Mo-Town as Chris switches the girls from singing country to soul with a capital "S." They catch on right away. Production values of the film are good, and take you back to the Vietnam War era.  The theme of family runs through the film and no matter where people are, that connection to home, either by letter or telephone, is poignant.
The Sapphires is a tale of talent and ambition and how to achieve one's goals.  The way is rough and tiring and when you are there, is it worth it? The movie gives the audience a chance to see talent from another continent and you will be well pleased. The script won't let you down, even taking gentle jabs at language differences, plus the music is foot-tapping.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
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