Thanks to Hopscotch Films and Sony Music, we had the chance to see director Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires at the Australian premiere of the film. This is our review of the film – but as usual – no matter what we say; we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because: There is no better critic than yourself!
The Sapphires is the film adaptation of a well-known Australian stage musical of the same name, inspired by the true family story of writer Tony Briggs’ mother and three aunts. It is set in the late 60′, based on three Australian aboriginal sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and their cousin Kay (Shair Sebbens). They all share a passion for singing, leading onto a nasty audition full of racist people where they met a very disorganized manager named Dave (Chris O’Dowd) who has a drinking habit but still decides to represent them. The Sapphires, thereby decides to go Vietnam to entertain the American troops, where they become an instant hit in Saigon.
The Sapphires is a fantastic film in every aspect, thanks to Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson’s script including a good treatment of comedy (especially Chris O’Dowd!) and history (touching on the topic of Stolen Generations’ and racism against Aborigines), making the film a true piece of art perfectly mixed with drama, humor and of course music as Blair’s feature film debut.
The cast is an impeccable selection of different personalities as the 3 sisters and their cousin share an incredible chemistry on-screen that you think they do share a family link. Despite the fact that Tapsell and Sebbens are newcomers, the four lead actresses deliver wonderful performances including dancing and singing, a highlight of the film, not to mention Jessica Mauboy as the vocal lead which doesn’t overshadow her band mates at all as every single one of them has the chance to shine in the film.
Chris O’Dowd is a perfect complement in such films because his comedy skills are at a new height, using old-school humor (no swearing at all!) to make the crowd laugh more than any current Hollywood comedy flick. Moreover, O’Dowd is not only funny but he can also do dramatic and romantic scenes without being cheesy, leaving you really moved as the story moves on and relationship develops in the movie.
The soundtrack is another highlight, weaving magic to Warwick Thornton’s beautiful cinematography, full of soul singing from Mauboy and her band mates. It has fast songs which will make you want to dance as well as songs that will touch your heart (and perhaps drop a tear or two) whilst watching this film.
The Sapphires is a true crowd-pleaser and in our opinion, an instant Australian classic. It’s one of those surprises that you always want to find in your local cinema and no question about it – it will definitely be a national and international hit. In fact, we won’t be surprised at all if it attracts some Oscar Buzz as it deserves a standing ovation just like its name says, a true Australian Jewel.
The Sapphires opens on 9 August 2012 from Hopscotch Films